Marygrove College is living proof that the city of Detroit is so much more than its often-reported headlines of failing schools and lost opportunities. As hosts of a Community Session on Urban Leadership for the national Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance (KFLA) on Friday, Oct. 12, the College is helping to rewrite the story about what is strong in Detroit; like the will of its people or the resolve of its long-standing institutions to provide access to quality education.
Roughly six years of thoughtful planning and hard work has come to fruition this year for Marygrove with an exciting award of $1.5 million in funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, one of the country’s leading philanthropic institutions. The grant is supporting the College’s Urban Leadership Vision in the form of a program called Building Our Leadership in Detroit (BOLD). The program is designed to transform the way students develop as leaders at Marygrove College.
Executed through the College’s Office of Urban Leadership, BOLD seeks to partner with national experts such as the KFLA to build ongoing community outreach programs. The grant will be used over the course of three years for programming and additional staff, to ultimately help position Marygrove as a qualified center for urban study and leadership. The phased program will eventually mandate a signature, four-year iterative academic experience for ALL students, regardless of major.
“As an institution serving the community of Detroit, I believe that we have a responsibility to capitalize on our location and improve outcomes for students and families,” says Dr. David J. Fike, Marygrove College President. “With the support of KFLA, BOLD will enable the College to sustain a long-term commitment to enhance urban leaders, and produce meaningful community change.”
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Sharing a distinguished history of leadership
The Kellogg Foundation has a distinguished history in leadership development, of which Dr. Fike has been an integral part, since receiving a prestigious National Leadership Fellowship in 1995. He has dedicated his career to service, teaching and urban community development.
Friday afternoon’s information sharing with social activists and change agents from around the country will set the BOLD program in motion. Fellows will have a chance to explore the community and engage in the real work being done to energize and revitalize Detroit. Marygrove College will present sessions on youth leadership, focused on faith-based methods for literacy and the arts.
Marygrove’s Associate Professor of Education Vivian Johnson, Ph. D. and student Vaughn Arrington will facilitate a workshop on Advancing Literacy Training and Changing In-School Detention Practices. Director of Marygrove’s Institute for Arts Infused Education, Mary Lou Greene, M.F.A. along with artists from the community will present Artists as Activists. There will be a dance performance from Marygrove students and a closing reflection. It is a sampling of the College’s best work.
“The Kellogg Fellows convening on Marygrove’s campus is an opportunity to share ideas, innovation and practices that demonstrate how Detroit continues to move forward,” said Brenda G. Price, Director, Marygrove Office of Urban Leadership.
Faculty and staff were also invited to register for the KFLA Forum 2012: Resilience, Transformation, Transcendence at the Westin Book Cadillac—another great Detroit institution—on Saturday, Oct. 13. The lineup includes formidable speakers such as Surgeon General of the United States Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A.; Commonwealth of Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby, M.D.; Michigan’s former First Gentleman Dan Mulhern, J.D.; and Grace Lee Boggs, activist, writer and speaker whose seven decades of political involvement encompass the major U.S. social movements of the past hundred years.
After maintaining a respected and celebrated presence in Detroit since 1927, Marygrove is not new to the city or its challenges. At its core, BOLD is guided by the values and mission of our founding Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM). For years, the Sisters have sought to improve educational, social and economic outcomes for vulnerable children and high-need families in Detroit and its environs with The Three C’s: competence, compassion and commitment. Their missions continue in other fine local Catholic institutions such as Detroit Cristo Rey High School and Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills.
The IHM-inspired ideals of The Three C’s were the impetus for the College’s 2006 Strategic Vision to focus on Urban Leadership, which represents a continuation of the school’s founding mission in 1845. The very idea of educating women in mid-nineteenth century America was a matter of social justice for the Sisters. One hundred years later, Marygrove College was nationally recognized in the 1940s for its “progressive” approach to preparing students for the practicality of work life, and required internship programs— a tradition that still holds today.
Today, community engagement isn’t encouraged. It’s expected.
Before it was common, Marygrove employed a Director of Social Action in the 1950’s, suggesting— if not outright warranting— a strong commitment to community service. This position provided counseling and oversight for students in volunteer activities in and around the city. Today, service learning is facilitated through the Director of Mission Integration and the Department of Campus Ministry. The precedent has been set.
After all, the founding Sisters built the Marygrove campus as an investment in Detroit. Over the years, the College stood as a champion for the city and its residents, and kept moving forward with the courage and insight, despite great adversity, to change its policies to roll with the times.
As it embarks on its newest model for education that transforms students into leaders, Marygrove looks to the future with great hope. A rich history of service will continue to attract and serve students in new and exciting ways, in Detroit and beyond.