Former Connecticut, Michigan State president dies at 87

Michigan
John DiBiaggio speaks at MSU's commencement ceremony on June 13. 1992. John DiBiaggio speaks at MSU's commencement ceremony on June 13. 1992. (Courtesy)

John DiBiaggio speaks at MSU’s commencement ceremony on June 13. 1992. John DiBiaggio speaks at MSU’s commencement ceremony on June 13. 1992. (Courtesy)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — John DiBiaggio, a former president of Michigan State University and the University of Connecticut, has died at age 87, school officials said.

DiBiaggio died Saturday in Denver, Michigan State announced Thursday in a statement.

DiBiaggio was the school’s top official from 1985 to 1992. Prior to his stint at Michigan State, DiBiaggio was the president at the University of Connecticut from 1979-85. He later served at Tufts University in Massachusetts from 1992-2001.

DiBiaggio grew up in Detroit and was a first generation college student. He graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1954 and the University of Detroit School of Dentistry in 1958, according to MSU archives.

Many leaders depicted MSU’s 17th president as a champion for excellence, ethical decision-making and high professional standards.

“John DiBiaggio was a true advocate for inclusion, service to others and, most of all, equitable access to higher education. 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,” Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., said in a statement.

Lawrence S. Bacow, who served as Tufts’ twelfth president, said he was fortunate to have succeeded DiBiaggio at Tufts.

“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. “That simple imperative shined through in John’s leadership of three of the country’s great universities.

Following his career in higher education, DiBiaggio consulted with other college presidents and executive directors of higher education associations. He also served for two terms on the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees.

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