University of Detroit Mercy hires new president

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Michigan's oldest Catholic university has hired its next president.

Donald Taylor will serve as the 26th president of the University of Detroit Mercy starting July 1, the UDM Board of Trustees announced Tuesday. 

Taylor, 57, has served for eight years as president of Cabrini University, a private Roman Catholic school in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, which provides undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degree programs to more than 2,000 students. 

Donald Taylor has been named the next president of the University of Detroit Mercy.

He will succeed UDM President Antoine Garibaldi, the first lay person and first African American to head the Catholic university founded by Jesuits in 1877. He has served in the position since 2011. 

Taylor brings three decades of higher education leadership following decades as a researcher and educator at Catholic institutions, UDM officials said. 

“Dr. Taylor’s accomplishments and extraordinary experience demonstrate a commitment to excellence that fits well with Detroit Mercy’s vision and mission, and we are confident that he will help the University achieve an even brighter future," Michael McNamara, chairman of the University Board of Trustees, said in a statement.

His accomplishments at Cabrini include earning a 10-year reaccreditation by Middle States, an accrediting organization; transitioning the university from a college in 2016 and creating four distinct schools within the university, each headed by a dean: the School of Education; the School of Business, Arts, and Media; theSchool of Humanities and Social Sciences; and the School of Natural Sciences and Allied Health. 

Prior to his post at Cabrini, Taylor was provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill, near Chicago, from 2008-14.

“It is a great honor and I am humbled to be selected to serve as the next president of one of the great Catholic Universities in our nation at this time in its institutional history, building from the tremendous success and momentum of President Garibaldi’s long tenure at Detroit Mercy,” Taylor said in a statement.

“In partnership with an engaged Board of Trustees, the Jesuits, Sisters of Mercy, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the greater Detroit metropolitan community, we look forward in leading Detroit Mercy to become the best comprehensive Catholic University in the Midwest,” he added. 

Garibaldi will step down on June 30. He will take a sabbatical before returning in 2024 as a tenured professor in educational psychology.  

Plans for Taylor to be in Detroit could come as soon as March, when officials are hoping he will come to meet the community, said UDM spokesman Matt Friedman.

The University of Detroit Mercy currently has 5,227 students enrolled.

UDM has three campuses in Detroit, including its main campus on McNichols. It also has a campus in Novi and offers programs at Macomb University Center in Clinton Township.

University of Detroit and Mercy College of Detroit merged in 1990, and the university has been sponsored by two religious orders long known for their educational mission, the Society of Jesus and Sisters of Mercy.