Another Small Private College Will Close

St. Gregory’s, an Oklahoma institution founded in 1875, will cease operations at the end of the semester.

November 9, 2017
 
St. Gregory's University

Two weeks ago, Memphis College of Art said it would close. Also last month, Grace University, in Nebraska, announced plans to shut down, and Wheelock College announced plans to merge into Boston University.

In another sign of the challenges facing small private colleges without substantial financial resources, St. Gregory's University, in Oklahoma, said Wednesday that it would end operations at the end of the fall semester. The university is a private liberal arts institution about 40 miles from Oklahoma City. It was established in 1875 and is Oklahoma's only Roman Catholic university.

A statement from the university said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had turned down an application for a loan the college needed to survive. It was not clear why the university was depending on the Agriculture Department, and officials could not be reached.

But in January, The Shawnee News-Star reported that the city of Shawnee had approved a proposal to detach the university from the city. The idea for this move, officials said at the time, was to allow the university to enter into a relationship with the Citizen Potawatomi Nation through which the university had hoped to obtain support from the Agriculture Department.

The latest data from the U.S. Education Department show that the university had an enrollment of 580 undergraduates, 10 percent of whom are Native American. The Benedictine monks who founded the university had a goal of educating both Native Americans and the settlers from the eastern United States who were moving to Oklahoma.

Comments on the university's Facebook page suggest that many alumni had no sense that St. Gregory's was in danger of closing. The president, Michael Scaperlanda, was inaugurated in March.

In a statement, he said, "My heart breaks for the profound disruption in the lives of our wonderful students, staff and faculty" brought about by the end of operations.

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