Detroit’s Marygrove College to Close Permanently, No Interruptions to Planned P-20 Program

The Marygrove Conservancy announced Wednesday Marygrove College will permanently close in December at the end of the 2019 fall semester. The P-20 cradle-to-career programming, however, is still scheduled to start in the fall.
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Marygrove College
Detroit’s Marygrove College is closing permanently, but the P-20 program on the campus is still expected to begin this fall. // File photo

The Marygrove Conservancy announced Wednesday Marygrove College will permanently close in December at the end of the 2019 fall semester. The P-20 cradle-to-career programming, however, is still scheduled to start in the fall.

The conservancy is a nonprofit organization established in 2018 to manage operations and steward the 53-acre campus. Its mission is to stabilize and preserve the campus, which operated for 92 years, while identifying community uses.

Plans for the P-20 educational campus were announced in September and include a new early childhood education center, a K-12 school, and the introduction of a teacher training program modeled after hospital residency programs.

The campus is being jointly developed through a partnership including the conservancy, The Kresge Foundation, the University of Michigan School of Education, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Starfish Family Services, and IFF. Marygrove College has also served as a partner in the development and will continue in that role until the closing.

“Marygrove College has been a leader in urban education since the college opened in Detroit more than 90 years ago,” says Sister Jane Herb, chairwoman of the conservancy and president of Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), which founded and sponsors the college. “Knowing that the educational mission of the IHM will continue on this campus for generations to come makes us proud.”

In September, a ninth-grade academy will open with an inaugural class of 120 students. The school will be operated by Detroit Public Schools Community District and is one of five examination high schools in the district. Curriculum will include engineering, English language arts, integrated physical science, math, U.S. history, and Spanish. Nir Saar, an administrator in the district since 2015, will serve as principal The School @ Marygrove. A grade will be added each year until all grades K-12 are offered.

“All of us believe that the P-20 partnership will revive the spirit of the Marygrove campus while creating multiple pipelines of talent for all DPSCD schools,” says Nikolai Vitti, superintendent.

“Our partnership will one day be a national model and part of the story of how the school district was rebuilt to provide children with the education they deserve.”

The U-M School of Education is co-developing the instructional and operational model for the campus, as well as the curriculum. The university will also launch a new teacher residency program through which newly certified teachers will have the opportunity to work alongside established teachers to continue their training. U-M is also engaging other academic units that may offer support services for students and families.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Dr. Burns and our partners at Marygrove College,” says Elizabeth Moje, dean of the U-M School of Education. “The strong network of other collaborators and our continued support from the Marygrove Conservancy – stewards of the beautiful campus – will carry this work along as anticipated. We will work even harder to assure that every opportunity we have planned is available.”

The early childhood education center will be operated by Starfish Family Services and is projected to serve more than 1,000 Detroit children and their families, primarily those living in the surrounding neighborhoods. Construction plans are underway and are expected to be announced by the conservancy in the summer.

The partnership is backed by a $50 million commitment from The Kresge Foundation.

“This investment places education at the center of community revitalization efforts in northwest Detroit while preserving the strong legacy of the college in lifting up the thousands of women and men who earned credentials there and went on to enrich our community,” says Rip Rapson, president and CEO of Kresge. “This new 21st century educational model promises to not only produce high achieving and community-minded students, but also to invigorate a renewed faith and interest in this community, which is integral to Detroit’s inclusive recovery.”

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