St. Gregory’s University to suspend operations in December

SHAWNEE – The board of directors of Saint Gregory’s University made the difficult, but necessary, decision this month to suspend operations of the university at the end of this semester, following the denial of their loan application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Without this component in the financial plan, the ability to sustain the university at this point is not possible. The board of directors continues to work actively to resolve financial difficulties and to explore possible partnerships to move forward.

“With great sadness, the board of directors of Saint Gregory’s University voted to suspend operations,” said Father Don Wolf, chairman of the board. “Our main concern at this moment is for our students, staff and faculty who will be profoundly impacted by this decision. The university is working with several colleges to facilitate student transfers in an attempt to minimize disruption in our students’ lives. Please keep them in your prayers.” 

Established in 1875, Saint Gregory’s is a private liberal arts college and Oklahoma’s only Catholic university. It is located 40 miles east of Oklahoma City. 

“My heart breaks for the profound disruption in the lives of our wonderful students, staff and faculty as the board of directors voted to suspend operations of one of Oklahoma’s iconic institutions of higher learning,” said Michael Scaperlanda, president of St. Gregory’s University. “We will do everything possible to ease the transition as we work with other colleges to place our students. My heart also breaks at the suspension of Catholic liberal arts education in Oklahoma.”

More than 65 colleges and universities are working with Saint Gregory’s to help with the transfer of students. Teach-out agreements are in the process with several of the universities for those students within a year of graduating.

On Nov. 17, about 40 area business came to the SGU campus to participate in a job-fair for faculty, staff and students. In addition, many of the 65 colleges and universities also brought human resources personnel and list of available positions.

For those students who are graduating this semester, a commencement will be held on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. in the Don and Jenetta Sumner Field House. A Baccalaureate Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Nov. 30 in the Abbey Chapel.

“I am grateful for our excellent staff and faculty who have labored for years under severe financial constraints, dedicated to providing the best education for our students. They have provided generations of students a framework to live joy-filled lives in service to others. I am also grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of the monastic community, the board of directors, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the Catholic Church of Oklahoma and countless others who have prayed for St. Gregory’s and given of their resources to help sustain the university,” President Scaperlanda said.

Rt. Rev. Lawrence Stasyszen, abbot and chancellor of Saint Gregory’s said, “The monks of Saint Gregory’s Abbey are deeply concerned by this turn of events. We are especially concerned for the families who will be impacted by this development. Our community has made one of our highest priorities the mission of education since coming to Indian Territory in 1875. We are grateful to the countless people who have been partners with us in this ministry, especially the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and many dedicated colleagues and donors. We maintain our commitment to pray for all who have attended and supported Saint Gregory’s over the years, and will explore new ways of contributing to the culture of Oklahoma.”

The abbey will continue serving the Catholic community. 

“Like so many small liberal arts colleges, Saint Gregory’s has struggled financially for years. We are grateful to Saint Gregory’s Abbey, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City for providing bridge funding as the university worked to create a financially sustainable business model,” President Scaperlanda said. 

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