Marygrove College (Detroit, Michigan) to Eliminate All Undergraduate Programs!

Dear Commons Community,

Experiencing enrollment and financial problems like other liberal-arts colleges across the country, Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan, announced on Wednesday that it would close all of its undergraduate programs, the Detroit Free Press reports.

“Vigorous marketing and recruitment efforts have failed to provide sufficient revenue from our undergraduate programs to continue operations as usual,” the Michigan college’s president, Elizabeth A. Burns, said in a news release. To keep the institution viable, Marygrove’s Board of Trustees decided that the college would focus on maintaining its graduate programs, according to the release.

Enrollment at Marygrove, which stood at 1,850 graduate and undergraduate students in 2013, fell to 966 by the fall of 2016.

Marygrove said it had notified new and returning students of the plan, and would work with undergraduates registered for the fall to transfer to other colleges.

Margrove grew out of a postgraduate studies program offered to one young woman graduate of St. Mary’s Academy in Monroe, Michigan, in 1899. By 1905 it had grown to a two-year college for women, and in 1910 it was a four-year college for women chartered to grant degrees.   It was then known as St. Mary’s College. The College moved to its current location in Detroit in 1927, and at that time became known as Marygrove College. When it moved to Detroit its president was George Hermann Derry, who was the first lay person to serve as a president of a Catholic women’s college in the United States.

In the decades after World War I, Marygrove College was an important local center of Catholic social action. Faculty members were chosen for their education, character, and faith, and President Derry encouraged each student to look beyond the prospect of eventual marriage and to become capable of “doing her part in the world’s work in whatever sphere of life she may be placed”.  By 1936, the college catalog spoke in far more emphatic terms of female independence.  It became co-educational in 1970 during the presidency of Arthur Brown.

As have a number of other liberal-arts colleges, Marygrove has struggled in recent years so this move is not a surprise.  Similar institutions have had to make drastic changes to avoid complete closure.


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