Detroit’s Marygrove College to Shutter Completely at End of Year

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by Bruce Walker  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 13, 2019   

92-year Motor City institution succumbs to secularized social justice agenda

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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Once considered one of the finest Catholic schools of higher education in Southeast Michigan, Marygrove College is finally closing its doors for good after bleeding enrollment and wracking up debt over the past decade.

Contemporary critics of the school claim the school lost its way when it began to replace traditional Catholic curricula and extracurricular social activities with an agenda promoting secular social justice beliefs and, as well, heresy. Since 2002, for example, Marygrove has been hosting Masses conducted on behalf of the Detroit chapter of Dignity USA, an LGBTQ group professing to be Catholic.

At the end of the fall semester, Dec. 17, the school will close the 92-year-old educational chapter that began in 1927. The move comes a mere two years after Marygrove jettisoned its undergraduate program to focus on post-graduate studies.

Weak Catholic colleges have it tough, marketing mediocrity and secularization.

By that time, combined undergraduate and graduate enrollment had decreased by 50 percent from a high of 1,850 in 2013 to an unsustainable low of 966 in 2016. The final closure will affect 305 remaining graduate students

The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) President Patrick Reilly remarked that Marygrove's decline and impending demise was predictable. A Merrifield, Virginia-based nonprofit dedicated to defending traditional Catholic education, CNS has been documenting the secularization of private Catholic schools since the mid-1990s.

The organization regularly compiles the Newman Guide, a list of Catholic secondary education schools meeting strict criteria, including adherence to traditional Catholic doctrine and a campus culture reflecting observance of Catholic values.

"Today all private colleges face enrollment and financial struggles," said Reilly. "But the faithful Newman Guide colleges are doing remarkably well. They offer a unique and authentic education. But weak Catholic colleges have it tough, marketing mediocrity and secularization."


Marygrove first opened in Monroe, Michigan in 1905 by the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) and moved to the Detroit location on McNichols Road between Livernois and Wyoming streets in 1927. Announcing its closure, Marygrove President Elizabeth Burns explained:

Marygrove's grand experiment to transition to graduate-only studies was a brave and bold attempt to continue to serve students. However, intensive marketing and recruitment efforts have failed to attract enough students. Coupled with a heavy debt burden, the low enrollment numbers provide insufficient revenue to continue operations into the future.

Burns told the Detroit Free Press last year the school was $25 million in debt with a $20 million operating budget and 491 undergraduate students. By 2017, the school's endowment had been depleted to only $500,000.

The University of Michigan will inaugurate a new preschool to college "cradle to career" education and teacher residency program on the Marygrove grounds beginning this fall. The Kresge Foundation has pledged $50 million to maintain the grounds of the 53-acre campus.

Several messages left with Dignity/Detroit to determine if the group would continue to conduct weekly mass at Marygrove remained unanswered at press time.

When contacted by Church Militant, Dignity USA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke indicated she was unaware of Marygrove's closing.

UPDATE: Duddy-Burke told Church Militant that Dignity Detroit would continue holding LBGTQ-themed masses at Marygrove for the foreseeable future. 

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