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Published by: Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Ed on Jan 30, 2009
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The Newman Guide

Benedictine monks reached central Oklaho- ma in 1875 and immediately laid the frame- work for a Catholic college. By the early 20th century, their college was moved to Shawnee and became known as the Catholic Univer- sity of Oklahoma. It grew modestly and was renamed St. Gregory\u2019s College and then, in 1997, St. Gregory\u2019s University.

The university is the only Catholic college in a state that has a Catholic population of about four percent of its nearly four million residents. It also is the oldest higher educa- tion institution in Oklahoma.

St. Gregory\u2019s has grown with the city of Shawnee, which has a population today of 29,000 and is located a half-hour east of Okla- homa City. The university has an undergrad- uate enrollment of 740 students, a majority of them at the Shawnee campus next to St. Gregory\u2019s Abbey. There is also a College for Working Adults at Shawnee and at a center in Tulsa about 100 miles away.

The university emphasizes its dedication
to the Catholic, Benedictine tradition; its \ue001ex-
ibility in academic programs; and its focus on
a sense of community. This la\ue005er is re\ue001ected

in what they call \u201cA Community for Life,\u201d an appreciation for the sacredness of life and the importance of human relationships.

Students can major in several broad \ue000elds

in humanities, theology, business, social sci- ence, natural science and health and sports science. There also is a teacher education pro-

St. Gregory\u2019s University
Shawnee, Oklahoma
quick facts

Founded:18 75
Type of institution: Small liberal arts college
Setting:Subur ban
Undergraduate enrollment: 740 (2006\u201307

academic year)
Total undergraduate cost: $19,980 (tuition,
room and board for 2007\u201308)
Undergraduate majors: Five (and numerous
five key Points
1.\ue000Catholic environment re\ue000ecting
Benedictine Abbey in\ue000uence.
2.\ue000Has programs for student evangeliza-
tion and interaction with monks.
3.\ue000Offers \ue000exible course programs.
4.\ue000Appeals to non-traditional students
through the College for Working Adults.
5.\ue000A regional college that recruits primar-
ily from Oklahoma and nearby states.
St. Gregory\u2019s University
The Newman Guide

gram. A unique aspect of the curriculum is a Design-A-Degree option, through which undergraduates can focus their studies on a

particular concentration. In e\ue002ect, this allows
for nearly 50 concentrations.
The university is commi\ue005ed to helping
non-traditional students gain associate de-
grees in a number of \ue000elds, including medi-
cal technician, liberal arts programs and sa-
cred music. The adult campus in Tulsa o\ue002ers

primarily business degrees at the associate, bachelor and master levels. There are 40 grad- uate students at the university.

About 58 percent of the students are from Oklahoma, but they also come from 14 other states as well as more than 20 other coun- tries.


The university is separately incorporated but is a corporate ministry of St. Gregory\u2019s Ab- bey. The primarily lay board of 31 members

includes \ue000ve Benedictines as well as Arch-
bishop Eusebius Beltran of the Archdiocese
of Oklahoma City.
St. Gregory\u2019s third lay president, Dr. Dave
Wagie, took o\ue003ce in April 2007. Dr. Wagie has
had an impressive career. In addition to be-
ing an active Catholic, he was a career army
o\ue003cer, retiring with the rank of brigadier

general; he holds a Ph.D. in engineering; was provost at the U.S. Air Force Academy; and has worked full-time on establishing schools in the United Arab Emirates.

Dr. Wagie succeeded Abbot Lawrence Stasyszen, O.S.B., who had been university president for seven years and who promoted

Ex corde Ecclesiae. Today he is head of St. Greg-
ory\u2019s Abbey and is chancellor of the univer-
sity, focusing on the relationship between the
two institutions as well as on the university\u2019s
Catholic identity.
Public Identity

St. Gregory\u2019s strongly promotes its identity as a Catholic and Benedictine university. Certainly, the presence of the abbey as well as the involvement of the Benedictine monks

has helped. The university mo\ue005o is Fides Lu-
men Praebeat or \u201cMay Faith Grant Light.\u201d The
community frequently refers to eight Bene-
dictine traits: hospitality, community, rever-
ence, a\ue005entiveness, service, balance, integrity
and excellence.

There is an opening Mass at the beginning of the academic year. One former student told us, \u201cA question arose whether non-Catholic

students must a\ue005end this Mass, and the fac-

ulty insisted that the school must maintain its Catholic identity regardless of the varying faiths of the student body. They pointed out that non-Catholic students were choosing to

a\ue005end a Catholic university.\u201d

We have found no evidence that inappro- priate speakers or questionable extracurricu- lar activities have taken place on campus.

Spiritual Life

Campus spiritual life revolves around the Abbey Church, where there are daily Masses. There also are Masses Wednesday and Sun- day evenings in St. Benedict\u2019s Chapel in one of the three residence facilities, Duperou Hall. Eucharistic adoration is held once a month. Confessions are weekly.

In addition to the Opening Mass of the Holy Spirit, there are Praise and Worship services, Founder\u2019s Day prayer services and other special religious activities. During the

St. Gregory\u2019s University
The Newman Guide
times of these events, classes are canceled
and all o\ue003ces on campus are closed to allow
students and faculty to a\ue005end.

Interviewees repeatedly discussed with us the importance of the Buckley Outreach Team, which consists of approximately 10 students who volunteer to organize and per- form retreats for Catholic junior high and high school students in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. In the fall of 2006, for example, re- treats were sponsored as far away as one in

North Li\ue005le Rock, Arkansas, 300 miles from
the university.

Established in 1990 from a bequest by the parents of Academic Vice President Father Charles Buckley, O.S.B., the Buckley Team promotes evangelization in about 20 retreats in 50 parishes and reaches 1,000 students each year. One faculty member told us, \u201cThe Buck- ley Team isth e main a\ue005raction and program at SGU.\u201d

Campus ministry is active. There is, for ex- ample, a special Lenten and Advent program known as \u201cFood for Thought.\u201d This program

invites students, sta\ue002 and faculty to enjoy a
homemade bowl of soup while listening to

The campus ministry recently began a four-cycle of courses on Catholic teachings, an example of a catechetical program that is completely separate from the theology or other academic units. This program focuses only upon Church teachings, and is open to anyone of any faith. The topics for the courses in the rotation include the Sacraments, the Eucharist, God, moral theology and works of mercy.

There also are such outreach activities as
pro-life e\ue002orts, including participating in the

annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., each January, the Angel Tree program that provides Christmas presents to children of incarcerated parents and spring break mis-

sion trips. A Career Vocations and Volunteer Fair allows students to explore religious or- ders, vocations and lay mission and volunteer services.

There is a student and monk community dinner that gives students further interaction with the monks and priests. Another related, unique program is the Observation Program for University Students (OPUS), where young men of the campus are able to observe monks in their daily lives. Although not many avail themselves of the opportunity, young men are able here to live in the monastery and experi-

ence monastic life \ue000rst hand for a semester.
Catholicism in
the Classroom
Theology courses are reported to be ortho-
dox. A former student says that the faithful-
ness of the theology department exempli\ue000es

the Catholic identity of the university. One theology professor frequently recommended in our interviews is Sister Marcianne Kappes, C.S.T.

The area with the largest enrollment is business, followed by natural sciences, edu- cation, social science, humanities and arts. Nothing was uncovered by our research that

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