OU to take in Marygrove College students

Dean Vaglia, Staff Reporter

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As Marygrove College closes its doors, Oakland University’s doors open up.

After 92 years in Detroit, the Catholic graduate college announced that the fall 2019 semester would be its last.

The closure is linked to a decline in student enrollment and the financial implications of hosting fewer students. Historically reliant on student tuition, Marygrove cut all undergraduate courses in 2017 and retained only its graduate degree and professional development programs in education, human resource management and social justice. The decision was made by Marygrove’s Corporate Board.

“Marygrove’s grand experiment to transition to graduate-only studies was a brave and bold attempt to continue to serve students,” Marygrove President Dr. Elizabeth Burns said in the initial press release. “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.”

With 305 graduate students facing an uncertain future, a teach-out agreement — an agreement between two programs when one closes and another one accepts the affected students — was forged between Marygrove and OU.

“In this case with Marygrove, we have a lot of programs that align well with the master’s programs that [Marygrove] were offering in education, so we are entering into an agreement with them that says any student within a year of graduating, we will accept their credits,” said OU Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. James Lentini. “They do not have to go through an admissions process and all that we will teach out the remainder of their credits and courses that they would need to complete their degree.”

According to Lentini, the move to take in Marygrove students began a few months ago, and the universities have been working to create a plan that is up to Higher Learning Commission (HLC) standards.

“The idea is to make the [OU] courses as close as possible [to Marygrove’s courses],” Lentini said. “There are these codes that HLC matches, so the programs should have very similar — almost identical — content. We would expect that they would be very, very similar without a whole lot of differences between the types of courses they were getting to the ones we have here.”

The agreement between OU and Marygrove has not been finalized yet and will need to be cleared by the HLC. Marygrove students will receive financial aid counseling and academic advising, according to Burns, though the extent of financial aid is dependent on the final agreement’s details. Students will be paying Marygrove tuition rates and graduate as OU students.

Most students affected by the agreement are taking online classes, so while how many of the 305 Marygrove students will be joining OU in 2020 is unknown, they are not expected to have a major effect on the campus community.

Community outreach programs by Marygrove will continue for 2019, and plans are being made for 2020 programs.

“OU considers our mission as a public university to serve the community,” Lentini said. “Our community in metropolitan Detroit certainly includes Marygrove, and [teaching-out affected students] fits our mission.”