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Gregory’s University
Shawnee, Oklahoma

Benedictine monks reached central Oklahoma
in 1875 and immediately laid the framework
for a Catholic college. By the early 20th cen-
tury, the college was moved to Shawnee and
became known as the Catholic University of
Oklahoma, then St. Gregory’s College. The
designation as a university came in 1997 to
acknowledge the institution’s modest growth
and graduate programs.
The university is the only Catholic col-
lege or university in Oklahoma, a “Bible Belt”
state, that has a Catholic population of about
four and one-half percent of its 3.7 million
quick facts
residents. It also is the oldest higher educa-
tion institution in Oklahoma. Founded: 1875
Abbot Lawrence Stasyszen, O.S.B., the Type of institution: Small liberal arts college
chancellor and former president of St. Greg- Setting: Suburban
Undergraduate enrollment: 642 (2008–09
ory’s, told the National Catholic Register that
academic year)
the university is a “missionary institution…
Total undergraduate cost: $21,798 (tuition,
located on a frontier of the Church where
room and board for 2009–10)
Catholics are a minority and often-persecut- Undergraduate majors: Five (and numerous
ed population.” But the university doesn’t shy concentrations)
away from a strong Catholic identity and is
a prominent institution in the local commu- Five Key Points
St. Gregory’s has grown along with the 1. Catholic environment reflecting
Benedictine abbey influence.
city of Shawnee, which has a population to-
day of 29,000 and is located 30 minutes east 2. Has programs for student evangeliza-
of Oklahoma City. The university has an tion and interaction with monks.
undergraduate enrollment of 740 students, a 3. Offers flexible course programs.
majority of them at the 75-acre Shawnee cam- 4. Appeals to non-traditional students
pus surrounded by the 640-acre St. Gregory’s through the College for Working Adults.
Abbey. There is also a College for Working 5. A regional college that recruits primar-
Adults at Shawnee and at a center in Tulsa ily from Oklahoma and nearby states.
about 100 miles away.

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St. Gregory’s University

sports science. There also is a teacher educa-
From the tion program. A unique aspect of the curricu-
lum is a Design-A-Degree option, by which
Financial Aid Office
undergraduates can focus their studies on a
particular concentration. In effect, this allows
“St. Gregory’s University is committed
for nearly 50 concentrations.
to helping students achieve their educa-
St. Gregory’s is committed to helping
tional and life goals. That commitment
non-traditional students gain associate de-
extends to making our one-of-a-kind ex-
grees in a number of fields, including medi-
perience accessible and affordable. Smart-
cal technician, liberal arts programs and sa-
sized classes and a one-to-one learning
cred music. The adult campus in Tulsa offers
environment create a high quality aca-
primarily business degrees at the associate,
demic experience. Our intellectual tradi-
bachelor and master levels. There are 40 grad-
tion comes alive each day in the student-
uate students at the university.
focused curriculum.
About 66 percent of the students are from
“SGU provides a high quality education Oklahoma, but they also come from 14 other
at one of the lowest tuition rates for a states as well as 17 other countries.
Catholic institution in America. Our fees One unique highlight on the university
and living costs are well below the na- campus is the 95-year-old Mabee-Gerrer Mu-
tional average and are supplemented by seum of Art, which was founded by a monk
a robust portfolio of grants and scholar- of the Abbey who developed a small art col-
ships. Hospitality and generosity are two lection. The museum’s holdings include arti-
of the Benedictine values in evidence at facts from ancient Egypt, Mesoamerica, Mes-
SGU. In fact, more than 90 percent of our opotamia, Greece, Rome and China, as well
students received financial aid in the last as religious art.
academic year. There are not many universities that can
beat the price of St. Gregory’s. Total tuition,
“SGU’s financial aid professionals are room and board in 2009-10 was $21,798. The
available to answer any questions and tuition rate has been well below the average
show you how to make SGU’s quality for private institutions in Oklahoma, where
educational experience affordable. Call 1- higher education is offered at a relatively low
888-STGREGS or e-mail finaid@stgrego- cost compared to other states. for more information.”

The university emphasizes its dedication
to the Catholic, Benedictine tradition; its flex- The university is separately incorporated but
ibility in academic programs; and its focus on is a “corporate ministry” of St. Gregory’s Ab-
a sense of community. The latter is reflected bey. The primarily lay board of 31 members
in what St. Gregory’s calls “A Community includes five Benedictines as well as Arch-
for Life,” an appreciation for the sacredness bishop Eusebius Beltran of the Archdiocese
of life and the importance of human relation- of Oklahoma City.
ships. St. Gregory’s third lay president, Dr. Dave
Students can major in several broad Wagie, took office in April 2007. Dr. Wagie has
fields in humanities, theology, business, so- had an impressive career. In addition to be-
cial science, natural science and health and ing an active Catholic, he was a career army

196 The Newman Guide
St. Gregory’s University

officer, retiring with the rank of brigadier faculty insisted that the school must maintain
general. He was provost at the U.S. Air Force its Catholic identity regardless of the varying
Academy and has helped establish schools in faiths of the student body. They pointed out
the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Wagie holds a that non-Catholic students were choosing to
Ph.D. in aeronautical and astronautical engi- attend a Catholic university.”
neering from Purdue University. The university makes recruiting Catho-
Dr. Wagie succeeded Abbot Stasyszen, lic students a priority. “Our goal is to increase
who had been university president for seven the number of Catholic students on our cam-
years and who promoted Ex corde Ecclesiae. pus so that our Catholic culture can be in-
Today he is head of St. Gregory’s Abbey and creasingly strengthened,” Abbott Stasyszen
is chancellor of the university, focusing on the told the National Catholic Register in 2008.
relationship between the two institutions as “One way that we are doing this in the com-
well as on the university’s Catholic identity. ing year is significantly increasing our schol-
arship program which offers support to stu-
dents simply for being Catholic.”
Public Identity The monastery and the large Abbey
Church are visible signs of the university’s
St. Gregory’s strongly promotes its identity
identity. The church was completed in 1945
as a Catholic and Benedictine university.
and features intricate stained-glass windows
Certainly, the presence of the abbey as well
that attracts tourists. Prayer services and
as the involvement of the Benedictine monks
Masses are open to the public.
has helped. Indeed,
In May 2009, the
the university is
university announced
viewed as the ab-
plans for a Rosary Gar-
bey’s “primary of-
den on the campus,
fering in service to
sponsored and land-
the Church and to
scaped by the student
humanity,” accord-
Knights of Columbus
ing to Abbot Stasys-
chapter. The garden
will feature 50 trees
The university
on the perimeter, flag-
motto is Fides Lu-
stone walkways and a
men Praebeat or
statue of Mary in the
“May Faith Grant
Light.” The com-
We have found
munity frequently
no evidence that inap-
refers to eight Benedictine traits: hospitality,
propriate speakers or questionable extracur-
community, reverence, attentiveness, service,
ricular activities have taken place on campus.
balance, integrity and excellence. Balance is
The 2009 commencement speaker was Dr.
regarded as especially important; firmness in
Michael Galligan-Stierle, vice president of the
identity and purpose is encouraged without
Association of Catholic Colleges and Univer-
falling into extremism.
sities. Other recent speakers have included
There is an opening Mass at the begin-
Linda Schaefer, a former CNN editor who
ning of the academic year. One former student
documented the work of Mother Teresa; a lo-
told us, “A question arose whether non-Cath-
cal writer; and a local judge.
olic students must attend this Mass, and the

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St. Gregory’s University

Academics All students also take six to eight cred-
its in professional development, focusing on
The Common Core is 56 credits earned computers and orientation to the world of
through courses required of all students. It in- employment. The university prides itself on
cludes “Tradition and Conversation,” a four- its commitment to technology, calling itself
semester sequence of seminars based upon the “Wireless Laptop University” because of its
heritage of Western civilization. Four courses campus-wide wireless network.
are required under the heading of “Faith and The discipline with the largest enroll-
Reason,” encompassing introductions to the- ment is business, followed by natural scienc-
ology, philosophy, scripture and ethics. Other es, education, social science, humanities and
traditional subjects in the liberal arts, such as arts. Nothing was uncovered by our research
mathematics, history, fine arts and writing, that indicates problems with any of the dis-
are included in the Common Core. ciplines.

Message from the President

Dear Parents and Prospective Students:

For more than 125 years, St. Gregory’s has been “Universally Engaged
and Uniquely Personal.” We are proud that our institution and heritage
reflect the traditional hallmarks of a prestigious Catholic education—aca-
demic excellence and a focus on developing the student as a whole person.

Our programs and campus environment help us to inculcate the Benedictine values of in-
tegrity, service, reverence, and community. We encourage the practice of listening and lifelong

Hospitality is an important component of our educational process and of daily living here at
the university. We want everyone—students, parents, faculty, staff, monks, alumni and the local
community—to be part of our wonderful St. Gregory’s family!

We help our students to succeed personally, professionally and spiritually. Our curriculum
prepares graduates for life—to be good citizens, parents, spouses, and professionals who serve
their parishes, communities and improve our society. We are excited about the education we offer
here, and we invite you to become a part of this learning community. Our talented and dedicated
monks, faculty and staff invite you to explore your future with St. Gregory’s.


Dr. David Wagie

198 The Newman Guide
St. Gregory’s University

Theology courses are reported to be or- in 50 parishes and serves 1,000 students each
thodox. A former student says that the faith- year. One faculty member told us, “The Buck-
fulness of the theology department exempli- ley Team is the main attraction and program
fies the Catholic identity of the university. at SGU.” Additional Catholic activity comes
One theology professor frequently recom- from a Knights of Columbus council.
mended in our interviews is Sister Marcianne Campus ministry is active. There is, for
Kappes, C.S.T. example, a special Lenten and Advent pro-
gram known as “Food for Thought.” This
program invites students, staff and faculty to
Spiritual Life enjoy a homemade bowl of soup while listen-
ing to meditations.
Campus spiritual life revolves around the
The campus ministry recently began
Abbey Church, where there are daily Masses.
four cycles of courses on Catholic teachings,
There also is Wednesday night Mass at St.
a catechetical pro-
Benedict’s Chapel in
gram that is com-
one of the three resi-
pletely separate from
dence facilities, Dup-
the theology or other
erou Hall. Eucharis-
academic units. This
tic Adoration is held
program focuses on
once a month. Con-
Church teachings
fessions are heard
and is open to anyone
of any faith. The top-
In addition to the
ics for the courses in
Opening Mass of the
the rotation include
Holy Spirit, there are
the Sacraments, the
Praise and Worship
Eucharist, God, moral
services, Founder’s
theology and works
Day prayer services
of mercy.
and other special re-
There also are outreach activities includ-
ligious activities. During the times of these
ing participating in the annual March for Life
events, classes are canceled and all offices on
in Washington, D.C., each January, the Angel
campus are closed to allow students and fac-
Tree program that provides Christmas pres-
ulty to attend.
ents to children of incarcerated parents and
Interviewees repeatedly discussed with
spring break mission trips. A Career Voca-
us the importance of the Buckley Outreach
tions and Volunteer Fair provides an oppor-
Team, which consists of approximately 10 stu-
tunity for students to explore religious or-
dents who volunteer to organize and perform
ders, vocations and lay mission and volunteer
retreats for Catholic junior high and high
school students in Oklahoma, Texas and Ar-
There is a student and monk community
kansas. Retreats are sponsored as far away as
dinner that gives students further interaction
North Little Rock, Arkansas, 300 miles from
with the monks and priests. Another related,
the university.
unique program is the Observation Program
Established in 1990 from a bequest by
for University Students (OPUS), where young
the parents of Academic Vice President Father
men of the campus are able to observe monks
Charles Buckley, O.S.B., the Buckley Team
in their daily lives. Although not many stu-
promotes evangelization in about 20 retreats

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St. Gregory’s University

dents avail themselves of the opportunity, Residential Life
young men are able to live in the monastery
and experience monastic life firsthand for a All full-time students unless exempt by vir-
semester. tue of age, marriage or being a local resident
are required to live in an on-campus residen-
Student Activities tial facility. There are three residence halls,
one solely for women, one reserved for men
There are 25 campus student organizations. and one that has both men and women but in
These include four honor societies; one local separate sections.
fraternity and one local sorority with ser- A strict visitation schedule exists, and
vice components; the student newspaper, The there is no visitation by the opposite sex any-
Chant; and such diverse groups as Students in time after midnight. The university is a “dry”
Free Enterprise, Hispanic Awareness Student campus as well as drug-free one, and there
Association and Habitat for are few disciplinary problems regarding ei-
Humanity. There also is a ther issue. One staff member
Student Government As- said, “The dry campus al-
sociation, which in January lows students to enjoy their
2009 passed a resolution college experience without
urging students to partici- being surrounded by drunk-
pate in pro-life activities. enness.” Starting August 1,
There are no organiza- 2009, the campus was also
tions that are at variance declared tobacco-free; to-
with the Church. One uni- bacco use is prohibited any-
versity official told us that where on campus, inside or
prohibiting them is a “quiet outside the buildings, for
way” of enforcing Catholic health reasons.
teaching. Catholic-oriented The campus is safe, and
groups include the Daugh- crimes that do occur are
ters of the Americas, the usually petty violations. We
Knights of Columbus and could find no evidence of
the Pro-Life Team, which violent crime over the last
partners with the Shawnee several years. But Shawnee’s
chapter of Project Gabriel crime rate is generally at or
to help women with crisis above the U.S. average in
pregnancies. most categories. Overall, the
The St. Gregory Cavaliers participate as city’s crime index is about 25 percent above
one of the 12 members of the Sooner Athletic the national figure.
Conference under the auspices of the National
Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. There The Community
are four women’s and three men’s varsity
sports including baseball, softball and men’s Shawnee is a small city that is somewhat of
and women’s bastketball and soccer. The uni- a suburb of Oklahoma City, about 35 miles
versity also has an intramural program. away. Oklahoma City has a population of
nearly 550,000 and has such major attractions

200 The Newman Guide
St. Gregory’s University

as the Oklahoma City Museum of Arts, a zoo, There are a number of attractions here,
a science center, a cowboy museum and vari- including the Bendictine monks and the
ous minor league sports teams. university’s flexible curriculum that allows
Will Rogers World Airport, a half-hour students to effectively design their major and
from Shawnee, is the gateway for students degree. St. Gregory’s has a commendable fo-
arriving at St. Gregory’s from some distance. cus on working and adult students, clearly an
Interstate 40 is a major highway that many important emphasis for the future. We also
others would use. are impressed by the Buckley Outreach Team
that evangelizes and supports young adults
in three states. For all these reasons and more,
The Bottom Line students—especially those from the Great
Plains—will want to consider St. Gregory’s.
St. Gregory’s University is not well known
nationally. However, what we have seen im-
presses us. The university benefits from its
relationship with St. Gregory’s Abbey and its
commitment to the Benedictine tradition.

The Newman Guide 201
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