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Former MSU president John DiBiaggio dies at 87

February 6, 2020
<p>Photo courtesy of Michigan State University. President John DiBaiggio at Commencement June 13, 1992. </p>

Photo courtesy of Michigan State University. President John DiBaiggio at Commencement June 13, 1992.

John DiBiaggio, the 17th president of Michigan State, died Feb. 1, according to MSU Today. From 1985 to 1992, he served as an “advocate for inclusion,” according to President Samuel L. Stanley.

“His legacy is still felt on the banks of our Red Cedar and will be for generations to come. Our most sincere condolences go out to his family during this difficult time,” Stanley said, according to MSU Today.

He graduated college from Eastern Michigan University in 1954 and University of Detroit School of Dentistry in 1958, being the first person in his family to attend college, according to MSU's online historical archive.

“He served on the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development and Economic Cooperation, the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of the American Film Institute, and the Board of Nominators for the American Institute of Public Service,” On the Banks of Red Cedar said.

He involved himself in many activities including community service, education and government, and he was "a wise judge of character," according to MSU Today.

“Many higher education and national leaders described DiBiaggio in the same way: A leader in higher education, service to community and a champion for excellence, ethical decision-making and high professional standards,” MSU Today said.

DiBiaggio’s hometown was Detroit, MI. He reigned at presidency at three universities including Michigan State, University of Connecticut and Tufts University. 

The 29th president of Harvard University and 12th president of Tufts University, Lawrence S. Bacow said he was proud to have known DiBiaggio, according to MSU.

“He was extraordinarily generous with both his time and his wisdom, and he gave me great advice that I have passed on to many people over the years: Always do the right thing,” Bacow said, according to MSU Today.

DiBiaggio’s childhood friend and former co-worker at MSU, Emerita Dee Cook remembers him for his great qualities. 

“I have had the privilege of knowing John since we were kids; we grew up together and graduated from Detroit’s Denby High School. … Our paths crossed again as we worked together on MSU’s first-ever capital campaign. John’s leadership capabilities, honesty and Midwest roots helped make that campaign,” Cook said. 

MSU Today said DiBiaggio was a mentor to many American Council on Education fellows that “(provided) training and opportunity to a new generation of academic leaders.”

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