Oklahoma Baptist University enrolls students, acquires records from St. Gregory's

Daily Oklahoman |

--SHAWNEE -- Oklahoma Baptist University is starting 2018 with some new students and new responsibilities resulting from the closing of St. Gregory's University.

The two private Christian liberal arts universities operated just two miles apart for more than a century before St. Gregory's succumbed to financial woes last month.

"It's such a loss. St. Gregory's has been such a presence in our community for decades," Bruce Perkins, OBU associate vice president for enrollment management, said Friday.

Students were told St. Gregory's would close at the end of the fall semester. They had only a few weeks to find a new school and transfer.

Perkins said OBU officials went to the neighboring campus the next day to meet with students.

"We wanted to let the students know they had a solid option," he said.

Forty students decided to take that option -- 30 undergraduates and 10 students pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree, Perkins said.

They range from students who will complete their studies and graduate in May to those who had just finished their first semester of college.

OBU was able to help several of the students with financial aid, but couldn't replace full-ride scholarships.

"Most of our funds are committed at this point, being the middle of the year," Perkins said.

The new students will be part of a student body that numbers about 1,850, nearly three times as large as St. Gregory's. They will be able to become more acquainted with OBU during the annual spring orientation for all transfer students. The spring semester begins .

OBU officials have been in contact with many other former St. Gregory's students through OBU's new role as record depository for St. Gregory's. That includes all records dating back to the 1870s.

"It's been very, very busy this first part of January because many students are requesting transcripts while transferring to other schools," Perkins said.

It can take some time to fulfill their requests because records have to be retrieved manually until they can be stored electronically, he said.

The trauma of losing their school is evident with many students, Perkins said. "Most of them are still pretty raw."

OBU officials also assisted St. Gregory's with administrative duties and with financial aid counseling for displaced employees.

"They were very, very gracious with helping us out with a lot of things, especially those records," said Theresa Bragg, former executive assistant to the president at St. Gregory's.

"We've been through the whirlwind of activity and the dust has settled," Perkins said. "Now we're finding our new normal."

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