Oklahoma’s only Catholic university is shutting its doors at the end of the fall semester.
The Board of Directors of St. Gregory’s University, a private liberal arts school in Shawnee founded in 1875, announced Wednesday the institution will suspend its operations after the U.S. Department of Agriculture denied a loan application.
According to its online academic calendar, the last day of fall classes is December 7.
“It’s been really hard for me,” Lucia Ramos said, tearing up. Ramos is a junior at St. Gregory’s studying elementary education and a first-generation college student.
“I come from a Catholic family. Attending the only university that’s a Catholic university in the state of Oklahoma--that was something big,” Ramos said.
Fr. Don Wolf, chairman of the school’s Board of Directors, said in a written statement the board voted “with great sadness” to close St. Gregory’s.
“The University is working with several colleges to facilitate student transfers in an attempt to minimize disruption in our students’ lives,” Wolf said.
The same statement mentioned the university “has struggled financially for years.” The USDA grant was a component of its financial plan, according to the statement, and without it, sustaining the school “is at this point not possible.”
Peyton Bates is a St. Gregory’s senior. She said she needs 12 more credit hours to complete her communications degree. According to Bates, the mood on campus is “a sort of panic.” Students are unsure if academic credits and scholarship money will follow them to other universities.
“It’s just really sad,” Bates said. “We’re all trying to figure out where we’re going to go.”
According to a spokeswoman at the school’s admissions office, about 400 students are currently enrolled at St. Gregory’s.