Marygrove College to end undergrad programs, offer graduate studies only

Marygrove College in Detroit will close its undergraduate program next year, with the private school offering graduate studies only starting winter semester 2018.

A 50 percent enrollment decline and finances are to blame for the school’s restructuring, issues that many liberal arts colleges have struggled with across the country, President Elizabeth Burns, M.D., said. Enrollment peaked at 1,850 in 2013, but the Catholic institution recorded just 966 undergraduate and graduate students in 2016 and projected even lower enrollment this fall.

“We’ve been getting, I think, very good feedback,” said Burns, ninth president of the college and an alumna. “Most folks are understanding. They understand that if Marygrove is going to continue to be part of the revitalization of Detroit, we needed to change.”

She stressed that the college — at the corner of McNichols Road and Wyoming Avenue on the city’s northwest side — will continue to be an anchor for the neighborhood through its outreach programs.

The Higher Learning Commission, which oversees accreditation for colleges in 19 states in the central part of the country, is re-evaluating Marygrove amid the transformation. It is not clear when the evaluation process will end.

By the end of the year, 30-35 of the institution’s 44 faculty members will be laid off. More than 50 of its 70 staff members await the same fate.

The college will assist with job placement for those affected and provide 60 days of pay and benefits beginning immediately after notice, Burns said.

“We don’t have the financial resources to do more than what’s required by the WARN act,” she said.

Students will be provided with “wrap-around” transition services, including academic and transfer counseling. Marygrove has reached out to Detroit Mercy, Wayne State University and Madonna University for assistance.

Burns said that after it was decided to cut undergraduate operations, it was a two to three week process figuring out how to deliver the news and prepare faculty, staff and students for the transition. Emails and texts were sent prior to sending a news release Wednesday morning, Burns said. She met with faculty early Wednesday morning and staffed a call-in line to field questions from students and parents. Still, many found out at the same time it became public.

“This is a kind of trauma for a college-aged person, so we really need to sit them down and talk to them,” Burns said. “In our planning and thinking for this, we really strived to keep…

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