Skubick: Remembering the late MSU president John DiBiaggio


The Michigan State University community is mourning the loss of a former leader tonight.

John DiBiaggio, the 17th president of MSU, has died.

He became president in 1985 and served until 1992.

DiBiaggio grew up in Detroit and was the first in his family to attend college.

Before serving  at MSU he was the president of the University of Connecticut.

6 News Capitol Correspondent Tm Skubick covered him for years and is here for you tonight with a look back and their long relationship.

Life is ironic sometimes. It dawned on me a couple of months ago that it had been years since I talked to John DiBiaggio. So I dug around and found his number and called out to Colorado and got his wife Nancy on the phone. The call went like this:

“Nancy, Tim Skubick in Lansing. I’d like to talk to John.”

 There was a pause.

She said, “Tim, you can’t.”

 I said, how come?

She answered he had Alzheimer’s disease  and he would not have recognized me.

John DiBiaggio. I should say he probably was the most gregarious and approachable president that we’ve had at MSU in a long time.

He was a lot of fun to be around.

He always answered reporter’s questions, which is nice.

And he was he was dedicated to MSU, but he had a run-in with the Board of Trustees, as some presidents do.

He wanted George Perles to make a decision, either be the athletic director or the football coach, but not both.

Well, the board decided they wanted both and the handwriting was on the wall.

Mr. DiBiaggio, those days were numbered and soon he was gone to Tufts University and now he’s gone for good.

I just wish I’d had that chance to tell him one more time that he was a good guy to cover.

He died at the age of 87.

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