The Kresge Foundation has announced that over the past two years it has provided $16 million and helped chart a path to financial stability for historic Marygrove College and the surrounding neighborhood.
Marygrove, which has been educating Detroit women since the 1920s, occupies an important place in urban education in southeastern Michigan. But over the past two years, the college and its campus have faced significant financial and operational challenges. To address the college's myriad needs, Kresge has helped finance the school's academic programs and campus operations, including payroll, health benefits, and utility services; provided funding for faculty, staff, and student supports through the wind-down of what was determined to be an unsustainable undergraduate program; supported the college's transition to a graduate-level-only institution; protected the integrity of the college's fifty-three-acre campus as a key community asset; created the Marygrove Conservancy to help position the campus as a community resource; satisfied or restructured the college's most pressing debts; and explored the feasibility of establishing an innovative cradle-to-career educational complex as a potential future use for the property.
Marygrove is further developing its online graduate education programs and is taking other steps to boost enrollment and achieve operational sustainability. Currently in its first semester as a graduate-only college, enrollment has climbed to four hundred and thirty-six students, many of whom are pursuing advanced degrees or professional development and certifications in several education specialties.
Among recent changes, the Marygrove Conservancy, chaired by Sr. Jane Herb of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is managing campus operations and stewarding the campus for community use. Kresge, Marygrove, the IHM Sisters, and the conservancy also are exploring the possibility of a consortium of educational institutions coming together to create a campus that comprises a continuum of educational opportunities at all levels, starting in pre-school. And, with other partners, Kresge, the college, and the conservancy are developing a process to engage the surrounding community in planning for the future development of the campus.
"There was more at stake than a school, its academic mission, and its tradition of community service," said Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson. "The collapse of Marygrove could have left the campus in private hands with no commitment to community betterment or engagement. Or worse, the college could have wound up under a cloud of litigation that would forestall progress for years. There was no other choice than to link arms with the college and systematically confront its challenges."