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Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA)

Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan, invites nominations and expressions of interest for the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). Under the leadership of President David Fike, Marygrove College is being increasingly recognized for its commitment to the metropolitan Detroit community and for attracting students who are passionate about providing leadership that addresses contemporary social, cultural, political, educational, and economic issues in urban areas. Founded, sponsored, and inspired by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHMs), this independent, Catholic, Liberal Arts college enrolls a highly-diverse undergraduate and graduate student body of 2,200 students.

The VPAA serves as the Chief Academic Officer and is responsible for promoting excellence in all aspects of academic programs as well as for leading the Academic Affairs division to achieve two key strategic objectives: 1) growing overall enrollment; and 2) advancing the College’s urban leadership vision through the promotion of curricular, scholarly, and community engagement strategies. Demonstrated success in academic program development linked to enrollment growth, knowledge of and support for diverse modes of instruction, and a commitment to shared governance are among the key leadership attributes being sought.

Marygrove College History

marygroveprofile final-2Marygrove College’s rich history began in 1845 with its founding congregation led by a Haitian woman of color. The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHMs) founded the college for women in 1905 as a matter of justice, despite post-Victorian-era social dictates which limited the female gender to marriage and child-bearing.

The College grew out of a postgraduate tutorial offered to one woman graduate of St. Mary’s Academy in Monroe, Michigan, in 1899. By 1905 it had grown into a two-year college for women known as St. Mary’s College, and in 1910 it was chartered to grant four-year degrees. In an effort to serve the burgeoning metropolis of Detroit at the time, a greatly expanded version of the College moved to the city in 1927. Its tree-lined location suggested a new name, and Marygrove College was born.

Rather than appoint a president from their own ranks, the IHMs deliberately chose to make Marygrove the first American Catholic college led by a layman, Dr. George Hermann Derry. Included on his visionary list of seven liberal arts were the art of making a living and the art of behavior within a society and students were encouraged to look beyond the prospect of eventual marriage and to become capable of “doing her part in the world’s work in whatever sphere of life she may be placed.”

By the late-1930s, Marygrove’s first woman president, Sr. Honora Jack, IHM, expanded the College’s commitment to critical thinking, interdisciplinary learning, and collaborative enterprise and firmly planted the roots of today’s civically engaged learning community. Placing increased importance on educating women as leaders, Sr. Honora appointed a director of social action and required students to engage in community service, join professional associations, and attend conferences.

The Mission of Marygrove College

Marygrove College, an independent Catholic liberal arts college sponsored by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is committed to fostering Christian values, to educating students from diverse backgrounds, and to serving the people of Metropolitan Detroit and beyond.

The fundamental purpose of Marygrove College is to educate each student toward intellectual and professional competence; toward career flexibility through grounding in the liberal arts; and toward active compassion and commitment. To this end, Marygrove provides a personalized learning environment, which, through excellent teaching in its undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs, guides its students to these inherent goals, referred to as the Three C’s:

Competence: the ability to understand and participate effectively in the promise of our evolving world.

Compassion: the capacity to care about and respect the worth and dignity of people.

Commitment: the will to act responsibly based upon one’s beliefs and to contribute to the building of a more just and humane society.


As the Civil Rights Movement made its historic impact on Detroit, the College proactively confronted social inequities directly outside its own gates by allying with forward-thinking members of the surrounding community and supporting efforts to integrate the neighborhood. Although the College had been educating students of all races for decades (the first African American student was enrolled in 1938), the College leadership responded to the 1967 rebellion in Detroit by launching an aggressive effort to increase Marygrove’s African American student population. This initiative, along with the decision to become co-educational in the early 1970s, helped produce today’s diverse student body.

In recent decades, Marygrove has maintained a proud commitment to its urban metropolitan community, a fierce dedication to institutional independence, and an effective promotion of innovative modes of education. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the College resisted pressures within its own community of stakeholders to relocate to the suburbs at a time when many other institutions were abandoning the city. In the 1990s, the College made an emphatic choice to remain independent, despite an offer to merge with the University of Detroit and Mercy College. In 1995, the College pioneered a video-based Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) program that has evolved into a nation-wide, state-of-the-art, entirely online flagship graduate program that has graduated more than 28,000 students since its inception.

Today, Marygrove College is a highly mission-driven co-educational independent Catholic liberal arts college with a dynamically engaged and dedicated 65-member faculty offering more than 40 undergraduate and graduate degrees.


marygroveprofile final-3Marygrove’s next VPAA will be joining the College at an exciting time with ample opportunity to contribute to a dynamically evolving learning community and to meaningfully shape the institution’s future. Critical components that define this as an exciting and timely opportunity for the right academic leader are the presence of: focused and cohesive leadership; tangible progress toward achieving a compelling strategic vision that capitalizes on the College’s history and location; significant momentum toward achieving enrollment goals; and a vital institutional capacity upon which to leverage creative and entrepreneurial talent.

Focused and cohesive leadership. Marygrove’s Board of Trustees has expressed strong confidence and support for Dr. Fike’s leadership as well as the college’s vision of “fostering urban leadership” which is a unique and compelling long-range strategic direction developed by the campus and unanimously adopted by the Trustees at the start of Dr. Fike’s tenure in 2006.

marygroveprofile final-4Progress toward achieving a compelling strategic vision. Marygrove is in the midst of executing on a key initiative aimed at achieving the urban leadership vision. Known as the Building Our Leadership in Detroit, or “BOLD” Initiative, this effort is developing and formalizing the College’s urban leadership curriculum as a four-year, systematic and iterative, interdisciplinary learning experience for all undergraduate students regardless of major. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has provided a three-year $1.5M grant to support BOLD.

Momentum toward achieving enrollment goals. Marygrove has experienced recent enrollment growth in full-time, traditional-aged (18-24 year old) undergraduate students and in a particular subset of graduate-level programs. This growth indicates a growing appreciation of the College’s academic programs and urban leadership focus in general as well as the successful implementation of targeted strategies to heighten awareness of the unique and innovative features of specific programs. For example, since 2005, the College’s undergraduate headcount enrollment has grown by approximately 30% to just under 1,000 students and the full-time-equivalent marygroveprofile final-5(FTE) undergraduate enrollment has increased by more than 40% as a result of a near doubling of the number of traditional-aged students and more than a 50% increase in undergraduates enrolled on a full-time basis. The strongest enrollment growth has been experienced in Science (175 majors; 152% increase since Fall 2008); Social Work (175 majors; 86% increase since Fall 2008); Criminal Justice (63 majors; 110% increase since Fall 2008); and Dance (42 majors; 62% increase since Fall 2006). In the graduate area, strong growth has been seen in two master level programs: Educational Leadership and Educational Technology (120 majors; 58% increase since Fall 2008). In each of these cases, growth has been driven by some combination of the following three factors: carefully cultivated institutional partnerships unique program attributes and innovative delivery mechanisms. For example, Science has developed a popular Forensic Science program as well as a 4 + 1 double-degree program with Oakland University’s School of Nursing; Social Work maintains strong relationships with faculty peers in nearby community colleges, and marketing campaigns have been targeted to build on these existing relationships; in addition to being a newly developed interdisciplinary major, the Criminal Justice program incorporates a unique emphasis on “restorative justice”; Dance emphasizes a unique combination of rigorous classical technique training and contemporary performance experience; marygroveprofile final-6and, both growing graduate-level programs have recently evolved into entirely online delivery modes.

The College seeks to continue positive enrollment growth trends to include additional academic disciplines. Achieving this goal requires an innovative VPAA with a demonstrated ability to lead faculty and academic administrators in discovering and creatively pursuing program redesign and development linked to enrollment growth opportunities.

Special Attributes of
Marygrove College

•  The Contemporary American Authors Series at Marygrove College brings a nationally known African-American author to campus each year. To date, nearly 10,000 people have joined us for each year’s public readings to hear outstanding writers share their work. 2013 represents the 25th year.

•  The Institute for Detroit Studies (IDS), founded in 2001, promotes interdisciplinary study of the City of Detroit through academic coursework; online resources; lectures, readings, exhibits and performances; and research activities. IDS builds on Marygrove’s mission, its location, and its external partnerships and seeks to broaden recognition of Detroit’s contributions to American culture, interrogate popular narratives about the city, and provide cross-disciplinary analysis of important urban issues.

•  The Science and Mathematics Department is a Project Kaleidoscope Institution leading the change in how science and mathematics are taught. This work was supported by a $1.8 million Department of Education grant to reinvent how science and mathematics were taught on the Marygrove College campus.

•  The Study Abroad program sends more than 40 students abroad to participate in two-week intensive learning experiences each year. The program is particularly noteworthy for transforming students’ world views, many of whom are flying or leaving Michigan for the first time in their lives, and broadening career perspectives to include opportunities beyond our national borders.

•  In the past three years, 59 student athletes have been selected as academic All-Americans.

•  The nation’s first Master of Arts in Social Justice program has graduated hundreds of students who now work as scholar-activists who look to change unjust systemic structures in hopes of creating a more just and humane world.

•  With steady qualitative growth over the past eight years, the Dance department has established a national reputation for excellence in dance in higher education. Throughout the academic year, the department regularly invites recognized professional artists to work with and mentor undergraduate dance students.

•  A faculty actively involved in scholarship as exemplified by the fact that 41% of all faculty and librarians have applied for and received faculty development awards in 2010-11 and 28% of all eligible faculty/librarians presented at professional/discipline-oriented conferences in 2010-11.

•  An engaged student body as exemplified by their participation in experiential learning projects such as HIV/AIDS education, Make a Difference Day; undergraduate research; presentations of research at national conferences and the College’s academic symposium; and conservation projects such as the 3rd 90 Belle Isle wetland restoration project.


Vital institutional capacity. Fortunately, the new VPAA can rely on significant assets in developing these opportunities.

Most prominent and important among these supportive assets is a committed and capable faculty. The College has a diverse faculty who embrace the mission through their dedication to helping students achieve academic excellence, and their commitment to excel in their disciplines. This faculty also is unique in their pedagogical approaches using cross-curriculum interdisciplinary team teaching, innovative course platforms including a weekend format for out of town students, evening courses for working adults, and online teaching, among others. Supporting the faculty and extending the College mission is a dedicated professional administrative staff whose expertise is spread across every area of the institution.

In addition, Marygrove has been a pioneer in the field of online education, having offered a Master in the Art of Teaching degree through distance learning modalities for seventeen years. With more than 28,000 MAT graduates, the College has significant knowledge and skill in the development and delivery of quality online learning experiences. This expertise is a tremendous asset which can support program innovation and development opportunities. Also, in recent years, the College has significantly strengthened its capacity to promote academic programs to prospective students. For example, within only the last two years, the College has built a state-of-the-art in-house capacity (after years of out-sourcing) to market and recruit students nationally for its online MAT program. This ability to integrate customized market research with the use of sophisticated web advertising, social media, internet tracking tools, and other communication capacity is increasingly being applied to the marketing and recruitment of all campus academic programs.

In addition, the confidence and support of the College’s alumni and friends have been resurgent in recent years. In only the last five years, the percentage of alumni giving to the College on an annual basis has increased from 10% to more than 25% and the average gift has more than doubled. The broadening and deepening of this critically important base of support is another significant asset for promoting the College’s advancement.

marygroveprofile final-7Because the College has only a small endowment and provides generous financial discounts to the low-income students who make up a large share of its student body, budgets are typically tight and staffing levels are less than desired in some areas. As such, the next VPAA will need to be comfortable working in resource-challenged environments and often needing to be more “hands on” than in an institution, which accommodates more delegation of tasks by senior leadership. At the same time, Marygrove College has a tremendous history upon which to build; an energizing and compelling vision of its future; and significant experience and institutional capacity which offer an exciting opportunity for an entrepreneurial academic leader to make a significant difference in the College’s immediate and long-term future.


The Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) serves as the chief academic officer for the College, providing leadership for advancing the Academic Mission and fulfilling its Urban Leadership vision. The VPAA is responsible for promoting excellence and equity in all aspects of academic programs and assures effective governance of the College, serving on the Senior Leadership Team with the President, the Vice President for Institutional Advancement, and the Vice President for Finance & Administration. The VPAA is a liaison to committees of the Board of Trustees and serves on key campus bodies including the Resources and Planning Committee, the Deans Council, and the Academic Council.

marygroveprofile final-8The VPAA is responsible for leading the Academic Affairs division to achieve two key strategic objectives: 1) growing overall enrollment; and 2) advancing the College’s urban leadership vision through the promotion of curricular, scholarly, and community engagement strategies and initiatives, including the implementation and follow-up to the Building Our Leadership in Detroit (BOLD) initiative funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Responsibilities include facilitating curriculum and co-curriculum development and assessment of learning outcomes, managing departmental strategic growth planning processes, as well as fostering strong partnerships with the other Vice Presidents and among departments across college divisions in order to promote effective enrollment management (new student recruitment and persistence to graduation).

marygroveprofile final-10In addition to administrative oversight of all academic divisions and departments, the VPAA oversees a wide range of departments critical to assuring the integrity of the academic and student development Mission of the College including: the Registrar’s Office; Office of Academic Advising and Student Support Services; Student Development and Residence Life; and Library and Information Services. In performing these oversight duties, the VPAA is expected to provide quality administrative services to support academic programming and effective advocacy of solutions related to student or faculty development issues.

  • Provide leadership as well as administrative support for the development and continuous improvement of academic programsmarygroveprofile final-9
  • Advocate for concerns of the Academic Affairs division at the senior leadership team level and actively promote shared governance processes at the College
  • Promote the College’s commitment to equity, intentional inclusion and social justice
  • Implement (and, where necessary, advocate for the modification of) policies, procedures, and practices that strengthen academic rigor
  • Serve as the primary advisor to the President on academics
  • Serve as a member of both the Senior Leadership Team and as a member of the College’s Resources and Planning Committee
  • Identify strategic resource needs and develop and manage the annual budget for the Academic Affairs division
  • Contribute to effective external/public relations work of the College as it pertains to Academic Affairs. This work includes representing the College at meetings of academic/professional associations and of accreditation- and regulatory-related oversight bodies as well as articulating to prospective students, alumni, and the general public the value of our diverse academic programs (including online programs) and the strength and expertise of our faculty
  • In collaboration with the Institutional Advancement division, provide leadership in generating grant proposals as well as monitoring and reporting on grant-funded programs in the Academic Affairs division
  • Appoint academic administrators who report directly to the VPAA
  • Assess and develop proposals for hiring faculty and staff
  • Ensure College compliance with accreditation and governmental regulatory offices
  • Provide administrative support for the promotion and tenure process
  • Other duties as assigned by the President

The successful candidate will be the one whose education, experience, achievements, and personal characteristics most closely fit the leadership responsibilities described above and the following leadership qualifications:

  • A mission-oriented individual who understands and is committed to Marygrove College’s identity as an independent Catholic liberal arts institution, its mission of graduating students who demonstrate competence, compassion, and commitment to building a more just and humane world, and its strategic vision to foster urban leadership.

  • A creative and energetic academic leader with successful experience in developing new and revised academic programs of high quality, and with the potential to reach new markets and grow enrollment.

  • Knowledge of, as well as commitment to strengthening and expanding diverse modes of instructional delivery and learning at the college (traditional semester-based classroom learning, online education, accelerated learning, adult/non-traditional learners, experiential/service learning, etc.)

  • Evidence of significant and increasing leadership responsibility in academic administration, including experience in the small, liberal arts college setting and in an urban environment.

  • A strong communicator, including listening, advocacy and decision-making skills, who is capable of working effectively with both small and large groups, both on campus and with multiple off-campus constituencies.

  • Experience as a faculty member that allows a full understanding of the challenges facing faculty, and who is an advocate for a strong model of shared governance, and whose leadership practices model the values of transparency, collegiality, respect, and trust.

  • A community builder who is excited about working with and committed to building a diverse and inclusive campus community.

  • An astute financial manager capable of building budgets and allocating limited resources in ways that are fair and that reflect clear priorities, and who is proactive in identifying new funding sources.

  • A student-focused leader who is energized by frequent and wide-ranging contact with students is an effective advocate for student interests, and who is active and involved in campus life.


Nominations and expressions of interest may be submitted electronically to:

Dr. Sally Welch
Chair, Vice Presidential Search Committee
Co-Chair, Marygrove College’s Science and Math Department
Marygrove College
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Candidates are asked to submit electronically in MS Word or Adobe PDF: (1) a letter of interest reflecting on the leadership characteristics noted above, (2) a resume, and (3) the names, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers of five references. References will not be contacted without first securing the permission of the candidate.

This search is being assisted by:

Loren Anderson, Ph.D.
Senior Consultant, AGB Search
Cell: (253) 223-3566
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional information about the college may be found at

Marygrove College is an equal opportunity employer and encourages
the candidacies of women and persons of color.

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