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’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.
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.
Marygrove’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.
Progress 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 (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; and, 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
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.
The 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).
In 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.
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
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
Additional information about the college may be found at http://www.marygrove.edu
Marygrove College is an equal opportunity employer and encourages
the candidacies of women and persons of color.