John DiBiaggio, whose presidency from 1992 until 2001 is credited with elevating the stature of Tufts University and strengthening its financial foundation, died on February 1 2020. He was 87.
The eleventh president of Tufts, DiBiaggio was the son of Italian immigrants and the first in his family to go to college. Over his long career in higher education, he led three different universities and received numerous honorary degrees.
DiBiaggio was also an advocate of inter-university exchange and collaboration around public service. In the early 1990s, he and Senator Ted Kennedy invited twenty-five presidents of Massachusetts colleges and universities to breakfast at Gifford House, the residence of the university president, to discuss how to advance their service work.
DiBiaggio grew up in Detroit, where his father worked in a factory. He would go on to serve as dean of the dental school at Virginia Commonwealth University; vice president for health affairs and executive director of the medical center at the University of Connecticut from 1976 to 1979; president of the University of Connecticut from 1979 to 1985; president of Michigan State University from 1985 to 1992; and then president of Tufts, retiring from Tufts in 2001. Following his retirement from Tufts, he served two terms as a trustee of the University of Massachusetts, as appointed by U.S. Senator John Kerry.