Detroit Mercy discusses role in renewal on eve of $100 million campaign announcement

Detroit Mercy discusses role in renewal on eve of $100 million campaign announcement

Yet another call for investment is being made in Detroit’s neighborhoods and it’s a big one.

University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine Garibaldi’s announcement of a $100 million campaign that will support scholarships, academic programs, faculty research and state-of-the-art facilities, while eventually increasing its endowment to attract more students to help revitalize Detroit and train in community leadership couldn’t be better timed.

Bottom line: Detroit Mercy wants to serve more of the community by better serving its campus.

University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine Garibaldi’s announcement of a $100 million campaign to build student population will do much to foster neighborhood growth and development. Photo courtesy of Detroit Mercy

That intent underscores something very important and meaningful as the city continues to move forward its neighborhood development efforts  and that is the increasing importance of mutual reciprocity.

As important as big investments are in city neighborhoods, they need to make sense for everyone involved.  And, this one does.

The public part of  The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy follows six and a half years of support from professionals, supporters, and alumni, some of whom discussed their mutual interest in Detroit’s revitalization at a campus panel event, “Detroit and Detroit Mercy: Elevating Our Dynamic Partnership.”

Rapson emphasized the need for philanthropy and the university to respect residents’ needs and concerns, in implementing development plans.

Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation, which helped launch the Live6 initiative to boost quality of life in the Livernois-McNichols community surrounding Detroit Mercy, encouraged ongoing cooperation of Detroit Mercy’s growth along with neighborhood development efforts, which he believes will cross pollinate each other.

Rapson recognizes the interrelationship between the campus and the community and knows that one really cannot really flourish without the other.

Kresge Foundation CEO Rip Rapson emphasized the growing for everyone to collaborate and work toward common goals at Detroit and Detroit Mercy: Elevating Our Dynamic Partnership panel discussion. Photo courtesy of Kresge

“This is still a neighborhood under enormous stress,” he told the audience. “We’ve still got a long way to go to before we can have a neighborhood with strong commercial corridors that neighborhood residents, faculty, and students all can use and want to spend time in.”

Rapson emphasized the need for philanthropy and the university to respect residents’ needs and concerns, in implementing development plans.

“It can’t be done at you,” he said. “It has to be done with you.”

The university’s influence as a neighborhood stakeholder hasn’t been overlooked, said Antoine Garibaldi, Detroit Mercy president.

“We get a lot of comments from residents about how grateful they are that we stayed here,” he told the panel. “We never left.”

Rock Ventures Principal Matt Cullen, a 1983 alumnus, cited the need for connectivity in community development, pointing to the failures of silver-bullet thinking.

“We thought that you could create an oasis in Detroit and it’d be okay,” he said. “They built the Renaissance Center, built these big berms out front, mowed the lawn in back, and thought that that would just work on its own.”

Crain’s Publisher and Editor Ron Fournier, a 1985 alumnus, moderated the panel. He praised Detroit Mercy for its part in boosting the city, saying “and Detroit has the potential to remake the world.”

The university issued a call for donors to help it reach its $100 million goal, some of which will create scholarships and bring new Detroiters to campus for training in community leadership.

A capacity crowd came out to support University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine Garibaldi’s announcement of a $100 million campaign, which is anticipated to help bolster surrounding neighborhood development efforts. Photo by Nat Zorach

“The response to this campaign by thousands of alumni, faculty, students, friends and members of the business and philanthropic community has been extraordinary,” Garibaldi says. “The $78.5 million in donations and pledges that we have raised thus far is a strong indication of the depth of appreciation our alumni have for their alma mater and for their personal and professional success.”

Sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), Detroit Mercy is Michigan’s largest Catholic university. Donors to the campaign have already established more than 130 endowed scholarships, increased the University’s endowment, and contributed 21 gifts in excess of $1 million.

Arnold D’Ambrosio, vice president for University Advancement at Detroit Mercy, praises alumni donors, while encouraging ongoing support.

“The response from the alumni is tremendous,” he says. “Their belief and commitment to the students we serve have been significant. Our alumni will continue to play a crucial role in the success of this campaign.”

The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy has four primary investment areas:

  • Student Financial Aid: Because 92 percent of Detroit Mercy undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid, scholarships are essential to attracting academically talented students. The University’s goal of $40 million for student financial aid demonstrates its commitment to ensure that all students, regardless of means, receive the support they need to pursue a Detroit Mercy degree. To date, the Campaign has raised more than $29 million for scholarships.
  • Programs & Faculty: The reputations of universities are built on the strength of their programs and the faculty members who teach them. Many Detroit Mercy programs achieve high national rankings in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges. Additionally, Detroit Mercy graduates are known for their unique combination of strong academics, real-world experience and commitment to community service. Thus far, the university has raised $22.5 million toward the $25 million goal.
  • Capital Improvements: Some of the planned facilities projects include a redesigned student union, a Center for Innovation & Collaboration, a Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning, active learning classrooms and more. The enhancement of facilities ensures that graduates will have experience in using today’s technology and receive exposure to relevant teaching methods that ensure their attainment. The University has set a goal of $25 million for these plans and has received $9.7 million to date.
  • Unrestricted/Annual Support: Unrestricted gifts and annual support allow the University to budget effectively and plan for the future, as well as take care of emergency costs for student financial aid.

First-time freshmen enrollment rose to 554 this semester, four percent higher than fall 2016 and the third consecutive year first-year undergraduate enrollment has increased. Detroit Mercy was ranked No. 19 in the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” for Midwest Best Regional Universities and Detroit Mercy is the only university in Michigan to be listed in the top 25. Designated a Gold-certified Michigan Veteran-Friendly School by the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency, Detroit Mercy also ranked No. 188 out of 1,054 universities nationwide in The Wall Street Journal’s 2018 Times Higher Education.

For more information about The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy, call University Advancement at 313- 993-1250, email or visit



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