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Marygrove College Begins New Chapter (January 22, 2018)

DETROIT — Marygrove College in Detroit began a new chapter Jan. 4 with the official commemoration of the school’s transition to a graduate-studies-only institution.
Marygrove announced in August that, due to declining enrollment, it would be cutting its undergraduate courses and would be focusing on its graduate programs.
“The college is still open; it’s focusing on graduate programs in education and professional development, human resource management and social justice, and we are still focused on the revitalization of the city of Detroit,” said Elizabeth Burns, the college president.
Marygrove was established in Detroit in 1927 as a college sponsored by the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the 90 years since, it has become a pillar of the Detroit community — particularly for students seeking a career in education.
Many of the remaining courses will be online.
“For our graduate programs, roughly 75 percent of our students are online,” said Burns. “We will still have a strong presence on campus, and we remain committed to the city.”
Several school officials spoke at the commemoration of the changes, hosted near the main entrance of the school’s chapel. Burns and several others spoke about how the mission of providing students with a strong education is still the utmost priority, and how Marygrove would continue to grow, albeit in a different direction than before.
“We are still in the process of establishing these changes,” said Sister Patricia McCluskey, the co-chair of the board of trustees. “We already had online programs, so we’re not starting anything totally new, and we have well-established programs for our education, social justice and human resource management. The board is working on further development and how to best expand these areas.”
Programs and classes at Marygrove begin at a staggered pace, but the first incorporated into the new paradigm began Jan. 8. The administration said that despite the changes, they want it to be the same institution people knew from before.
“We have a lot of hope,” said McCluskey. “It’s a beginning, and we’re proud to remain an anchor in the community … and providing leadership and a values-based curriculum. We have excellent faculty and members, and great programs. These values will only expand moving forward.”
Despite the heavy use of online resources, Marygrove officials said that staff tries to go the extra mile to ensure that students feel like they are working within a community and have a proper relationship with an instructor.
“I think we have a personalized touch, even in our online programs,” said McCluskey. “We are still able to maintain the small, personalized focus this college is known for through different means, such as chats, video conferences and email.”
Mustapha Steve Elturk, who had been an imam with the Islamic Organization of North America for several years before he began attending the school as a social justice student, was among those who spoke at the event. He stressed the importance of the social justice program and how having such an institution in the middle of the city was important.
“Not only do they teach you theory and statistics, but they help you implement what you learn,” said Elturk. “The goal here is to produce scholar activists. Not many schools worldwide even have a social justice program, and they began it 20 years ago. Marygrove are really pioneers.” Elturk said he hoped that with a more limited focus, Marygrove would be able to improve and grow the remaining programs.
“When the social justice program was introduced to me, it was very appealing with regard to what would be taught,” said Elturk.”The teachers and professors are very passionate, and you sense that. … I think it’s very important that it remains after that transition, and I hope they expand it to other related areas and look into more specialized areas.”
Burns said she hopes people realize Marygrove College is still a strong educational institution, and that it will still strive to help both its students and the city of Detroit.
“A lot of people didn’t understand we were only closing our undergraduate programs, and we wanted to ensure people know we are continuing forward, but with a new path,” said Burns. “Marygrove is always focused on education, and we have a long history of master’s students and professional development.”