Urban Leadership

Strategic Vision: Urban Leadership The Marygrove College community, with much enthusiasm, has committed itself to pursue an exciting Strategic Vision of Urban Leadership.  This vision was developed in a collaborative process with significant input and consensus from a wide variety of campus constituencies and was approved by the Board of Trustees in May, 2006.


Marygrove College 

2006-2009 Strategic Vision
Board Approved: May 12, 2006

Marygrove College Educates Leaders
For Urban Communities of Today and Tomorrow

The Marygrove College Urban Leadership Vision

Marygrove College is widely recognized for its commitment to the metropolitan Detroit community and has a national reputation for expertise on 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 (IHM), this independent, Catholic, liberal arts college attracts and serves students of all faiths who are passionate about engaging these contemporary urban issues. It offers degrees and programs that develop students understanding of these issues as well as students leadership skills, particularly those necessary to lead in urban communities. The College also serves as an institutional leader by undertaking projects related to current issues of significance to the City. Both of these roles developing urban leaders and serving as an institutional leader capitalize on Marygrove Colleges location in the City of Detroit.

Elaborating on the Marygrove College Vision

What inspires the vision?

Marygrove Colleges commitment to Detroit and the Colleges work on urban issues is inspired by the values and beliefs of its founder and continuing sponsor, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) and is rooted in the intellectual tradition and social teaching of the Catholic Church. The Churchs intellectual tradition directs that the Colleges scholarly pursuit of truth should stem from both an abiding faith in God and a profound reverence for reason. The Churchs social teaching directs that the Colleges programs should promote the common good by fostering respect for human dignity, encouraging earth-care and sustainable communities, and seeking justice for people and communities who suffer from the actions of more powerful groups.

What is meant by urban?

The term urban refers to metropolitan regions that are defined by large numbers of people living in highly concentrated locations, typically characterized by a more densely-populated core or urban center and less densely-populated contiguous suburban areas. An important feature of urban metropolitan regions is that the different urban and suburban communities within them do not function or evolve in isolation. Rather, the social, political, economic, educational and cultural dynamics of individual communities are intertwined with the other communities that make up the region.

Characteristics of urban metropolitan regions
In addition, urban metropolitan regions are characterized by a number of positive features, such as varied expressions of local and cosmopolitan culture (fine arts, music, theater, sporting events), and of multiple living examples of historical legacies and human resilience in the face of adversity. Such regions also have many challenging and destructive features, such as high concentrations of poverty and of wealth, significant disparities of power, distinct issues of ecological stress and environmental degradation, and unique manifestations of social pathologies (racism, sexism, violence) that dehumanize and marginalize portions of the community.

Our legacy in the face of challenges
Marygrove College is located in the City of Detroit, the heart of a metropolitan region which exhibits rich expressions of culture, inspiring examples of human and community resilience, as well as some of the starkest urban challenges to be found in this country. Some people choose to view the presence of these stark challenges as an obstacle; Marygrove College long has chosen to view its location in Detroit as an opportunity to learn, to serve, and to lead. The Colleges distinctive Urban Leadership Vision stems directly from this legacy.

What is meant by leadership?

Leadership can be defined as making things happen with the help of others. This definition captures the essential characteristics of leadership: taking action and engaging people. Marygrove College seeks to support leadership that is aimed at promoting social justice and the common good. Since there are many ways to make positive change that supports justice and the common good, Marygrove College believes that there are many ways in which effective leadership can be exercised.

Traditional and non-traditional leaders
Sometimes a person can help people to make good things happen because of his or her formal position (for example, an elected official, the chair of a committee, a managerial position with supervisory responsibilities). Often, however, a person without formal authority can influence collective action. In short, there are different types of leaders: highly visible leaders in traditional positions of authority and in non-traditional positions, leaders who consciously choose at times to be effective followers, vocal leaders and more quiet, soft-spoken leaders, to name only a few.

Characteristics of effective leaders
Although each type of leadership is different, Marygrove College believes that effective leadership almost always requires (1) an understanding of underlying causes of issues and the application of ethical criteria in decision making, (2) an awareness of group dynamics and an ability to motivate others to act, and (3) the courage to act that arises from the confidence gained from experience. Marygrove College believes that every individual has the civic responsibility to exercise leadership for the common good. A Marygrove College education concentrates on developing the knowledge, awareness, abilities, and courage that produces competent, compassionate, and committed graduates who exercise their social responsibility

Community Partnerships

The Office of Urban Leadership (OUL) is challenging Marygrove College students to be BOLD and have a positive impact on the lives of youth in the city of Detroit. The OUL is currently partnering with several nonprofit organizations as well as an elementary school in the Cody-Rouge Neighborhood to mentor youth in after school programs.  Fourteen Marygrove College students and two staff members from the OUL volunteered time at Dixon Educational Learning Academy and Developing KIDS to develop positive relationships with K-12 youth. Within the 2013-14 academic year, students spent 136 hours mentoring in community and staff volunteered 36 hours for a total of 172 mentoring hours.

In reflecting upon their mentoring experience Marygrove mentors had this to say:

  • I learned I love working with children and would like to have them be my focus area after I graduate.
  • Yes, I do see the connection & impact of this type of experience. I do see myself as an urban leader as life goes outside the books and other school related things.
  • I learned to adapt to the different children as each one learns in their own way and at a different pace.
  • Because I lived in this area I know what these kids are exposed to. It was great for them to see someone who comes from the same place, to be in college.

This type of civic engagement for the college continues our commitment to developing our students as Urban Leaders while also promoting a positive impact on the city of Detroit.  The OUL trains and certifies all of our Marygrove Student Mentors as College Positive Volunteers, who will be able to promote educational skills and college readiness to K-12 students. This exciting and engaging opportunity has allowed our Student Mentors to be responsible for leadership tasks such as serving as role models within our communities as well as assisting in the classrooms with tutoring and skills building.

The OUL has found that these experiences have not only had a profound impact on our students but have also had a positive influence on the K-12 youth we have had the wonderful opportunity to engage.  The OUL continues to develop new opportunities for our students to carry out the three Cs within the mission of the college:  Competence, Compassion, and Commitment.  We continue to identify   community partnerships enabling our students to have a BOLD impact in our community while remaining committed to educational excellence and social justice. 

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