Column: Marygrove College continuing to serve Detroit

Elizabeth Burns

On Jan. 2, Marygrove College will open a new chapter in our 90-plus year history of serving Detroit. That’s when we complete our transition to a mission focused exclusively on graduate education.

As we embark on this new mission, we do so with a commitment to continuing to play a key role in our northwest Detroit neighborhood, where we have been a force for change since the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary opened the doors on our beautiful campus in 1927. And we do so with a commitment to provide a quality education to the graduate students who will make up our student body, both online and on campus.

We announced our decision to close the undergraduate program at the end of this year in late August. The timing was intended to assure our undergraduate students could continue through the fall semester here on our campus while having adequate time to carefully prepare for their next steps after Marygrove.

When we made the announcement that we were closing our undergraduate program, more than 40 colleges and universities reached out to us immediately to indicate they would welcome Marygrove students to their campuses.

Many of them have sent interview teams to our campus to meet with our students to help them make the best decision for themselves to continue their education.

A number of students have successfully enrolled in a new college or university for the winter term, even as they finish their fall term here. At this point, 87 students are scheduled to graduate at our December graduation ceremony.

So, at the start of the winter 2018 semester, we will focus our efforts on graduate education and graduate professional development, maintaining our historic commitment to advanced education.

We will continue to educate students from diverse backgrounds, to foster values-based leadership in our students, to provide innovative graduates studies and professional development toward career enhancement and social responsibility and serve as an institutional leader within the city of Detroit.

The degrees we will offer include a master’s degree in the art of teaching in seven different categories, including elementary reading and literacy, elementary and middle school mathematics, and special education, master of arts in educational leadership, human resource management and social justice and master of education.

We also are continuing such popular on-campus activities as our annual Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series, which next April will bring Pulitzer Prize winning author Colson Whitehead to campus. Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “The Underground Railroad,” which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection and winner of the National Book Award as well as the Pulitzer Prize. We eagerly look forward to his presence on our campus.

And our Tuxedo Street Project is moving forward as scheduled. It is now an active literary arts and community center under the direction of English professor-in-residence Rose Gorman, who moved into the house in August.

We are excited about the changes underway at Marygrove and about the bright future we see for this campus as it continues to pursue the vision of leadership put forth 90 years ago by the IHM Sisters.

Change is rarely easy, particularly in an institution with a long history such as Marygrove’s.

But we are approaching this change with the confidence and optimism reflected in Second Timothy, first chapter, seventh verse: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

That spirit, “of power, love and self-discipline,” has seen Marygrove through our first 90 years. And it will carry us successfully into our future as a continuing center of learning and a cornerstone of our northwest Detroit neighborhood.

Elizabeth Burns is president of Marygrove College.