August 2011: New president Garibaldi aims to take university to new heights

Dr. Antoine Garibaldi is trying to make UDM a recognizable name throughout the community. That's why the university's new president has been proactive about meeting members of the Detroit media in his first months on the job.

 Since taking over in June, Garibaldi has made appearances on MSNBC, Channel 4, FOX 2 and WWJ-AM. He's met with the editorial boards of the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News and the editors of the Michigan Chronicle.

"It was part of a 100-day plan," he said. "I started June 1, and I would say the publicity role started at that point. The intent was to meet as many of Michigan's outstanding leaders as

He said the goal was not only to get acquainted with the people he now works near, but to share everything UDM has to offer.

"A new person comes in and says some things about the university that maybe other people didn't realize," he said.

Garibaldi said one common misconception about the university is that because it's a private institution only wealthy students who don't need financial aid attend it.

He said that when he tells people just how much aid is needed, it "blows people

As a result, he's hoping more people will donate and contribute to scholarships.

"We want more endowed scholarships to help our students," he said. "Any opportunity I have to talk about that, I'll use

Garibaldi said he feels the students are the most interesting part of his new job.

"I was impressed on where they all come from," he said.

In an effort to meet as many as possible, Garibaldi will clear his schedule for an hour each week to talk to any student who signs up. The weekly "student hours" will give him a chance to interact with others on a personal basis, he said.

Once the school year starts, Garibaldi said his number one priority will be strategic planning for the next few years.

"It's going to set the direction and the course of the university for the next three to five years," he said.

Items on his to-do list include increasing enrollment, fundraising and strengthening UDM's Jesuit and Mercy identity, he said.

While president of Gannon University in Pennsylvania, Garibaldi showed he could accomplish his goals.

During his tenure, enrollment grew by 24 percent, and its endowment more than doubled. He oversaw the largest fund-raising campaign in Gannon's history in 2008 when he helped raise $31.5 million.

Even with the challenges he's made for himself, Garibaldi said he's excited to begin the year. He's already met with every freshman SOAR group, and said he feels connected to the group of first-year students.

"I'm happy to be a member of their class," he said. "I'm a first-year student like they are. I hope they take full advantage of everything the university has to