John DiBiaggio, 17th MSU president, passes away at age 87

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A portrait of MSU President John DiBiaggio from 1987
Credit: MSU Archives and Historical Collections

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – John DiBiaggio passed away on February 1st at age 87.

John DiBiaggio was the 17th president of Michigan State University and served from 1985 to 1992, according to On the Banks of the Red Cedar.

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.

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.

Dr. DiBiaggio grew up in Detroit and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1954, according to Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections.

He graduated from University of Detroit School of Dentistry in 1958. He also holds a master’s degree from the Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan.

As president of MSU, Dr. DiBiaggio headed the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges during its Centennial Year.

Along with Spartan Nation, I am sad to hear about the loss of former President John DiBiaggio. We all have fond memories of him and his commitment to MSU. We have lost a champion of higher education and of this special Spartan community that we all care for.

James Blanchard, Michigan’s 45th governor, former ambassador to Canada and an MSU alumnus

Dr. DiBiaggio was president of MSU after Maurice Cecil Mackey, Jr. and before Gordon Guyer.

John was a great Spartan who worked hard for the university. He was a national leader in public higher education and served as chair of the APLU Board of Directors in the 1980s. He leaves behind many friends

M. Peter McPherson, MSU’s 19th president and current president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

In 1989, he led the inauguration on campus of the K1200 Superconducting Cyclotron, the world’s highest-energy continuous beam accelerator and a precursor to the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

In November of the same year, the Jack Breslin Student Events Center opened. The $43-million facility is named in honor of “Mr. MSU,” Jack Breslin, who prior to his death in August of 1988, was a senior consultant to former MSU President Dr. John DiBaggio.

John DiBiaggio speaks at MSU’s commencement ceremony on June 13, 1992.
Credit: Michigan State University Communications

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