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Enrollment drop forces Marygrove College to end undergrad programs

A liberal arts school in Detroit is shutting down its undergraduate programs next year due to declining enrollment. Beginning in January only master's degree programs will be offered at Marygrove College.

The college, which is known for its graduate teacher training program, expects that the demand for Masters degrees in teaching will lead to the success of the new business model. 

President Elizabeth Burns said in a written statement Wednesday that "vigorous marketing and recruitment efforts have failed to provide sufficient revenue from our undergraduate programs to continue operations as usual." 

Marygrove plans to phase out the undergrad programs and will assist students as they transfer or approach graduation.  

"We're so pleased that, given the plight of liberal arts colleges across the country, we are able to stay in business in Detroit," Marygrove College spokeswoman Renee Ahee said. 

"It was more than a tough call. It was one of those things that, you don't make those kinds of decisions with a 90 year legacy or when you go back to when the college was established in 1905, you have more than 100 years of history of education," she said. 

Faculty and staff were informed of the change Wednesday morning, after a vote by the board of trustees Tuesday. Approximately 50 people will be laid off, depending on how many students come in the fall. 

Marygrove was founded in 1905 as a Catholic women's college and moved to Detroit about 90 years ago. Its enrollment peaked in 2013 with more than 1,850 graduate and undergraduate students. Total enrollment dropped to 966 by last fall. This fall it's at 925 students. 55% of them are enrolled in graduate programs, Ahee said. 

Other liberal arts colleges across the country are feeling similar pangs due to revenue losses from enrollment drops. Some like Trinity Lutheran University in Everett, Washington, and Marian Court College in Swampscott, Massachusetts, have ended operations.