stgregoryuniv St. Gregory's University

Catholic university in Shawnee, Okla., is shutting down

Officials at St. Gregory's University say the failure to secure a federal loan meant the school was no longer financially viable.

After more than 140 years, St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Okla., has announced that it will shut down at the end of the current semester.

The university says in a news release that its decision to cease operations came after a loan application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture was denied.

"Without this component in the financial plan, the ability to sustain the university at this point is not possible," the university says.

The university was established in 1875 in Shawnee, about 40 miles east of Oklahoma City. The private liberal arts college, Oklahoma's only Catholic university, has 550 students and 110 employees, according to The Shawnee News-Star.

“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," says Michael Scaperlanda, president of St. Gregory’s. "We will do everything possible to ease the transition as we work with other colleges to place our students.

St. Gregory's is working to finalize a provisional plan with the Higher Learning Commission.

"Teach-out agreements and transfer opportunities are underway with area universities," the university says. "Over the next few weeks, transfer fairs and job fairs will be scheduled on campus."

The school had been working for months to secure the federal loan. The City of Shawnee de-annexed the campus so that it could be considered a rural site and become eligible for the loan.

But because the campus was not considered to be in a rural area at the time of the last census in 2010, St. Gregory's was deemed to be ineligible for the loan.

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