Oklahoma Baptist University and St. Gregory’s Abbey announced a property exchange agreement during an event Friday, June 7, at the Abbey in Shawnee. In exchange for the transfer of the 74-acre OBU Green Campus, formerly St. Gregory’s University, to the Abbey, OBU will receive two parcels of land for future development totaling 134 acres in Shawnee.

In a move beneficial to both parties, the OBU Board of Trustees approved the exchange with St. Gregory’s Abbey following a lengthy two-year study and subsequent recommendation by an OBU Board of Trustees ad hoc property committee who considered options for use of the Green Campus. The study revealed it would be advantageous for both OBU and St. Gregory’s Abbey to work toward a property exchange instead of pursuing other options.

The Rt. Rev. Lawrence Stasyszen, O.S.B., Abbot of St. Gregory’s Abbey, left, and Oklahoma Baptist University President Dr. Heath Thomas announced a property exchange to transfer the 74-acre OBU Green Campus, formerly St. Gregory’s University, to the Abbey in exchange for two parcels of land for future development totaling 134 acres in Shawnee.

“Our trustees voted unanimously for this land exchange and we are both excited and hopeful as we look towards the future opportunities that will result for OBU,” said Dr. Eric Costanzo, chair of the OBU Board of Trustees. “We are also incredibly thankful for the Green family and the continued blessings that will come from their generosity.”

OBU acquired the campus from Hobby Lobby and the Green Family who donated the property to OBU in December 2019. The Green family had purchased the property after the closure and subsequent bankruptcy of St. Gregory’s University. St. Gregory’s Abbey and Monastery continued to occupy its property, as did Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, as they both operate as separate entities from the university. At that time, OBU offered a teach-out agreement to current SGU students, with many of them transferring to OBU to complete their degrees. OBU renamed the location as the “OBU Green Campus” to honor the Green family.

As OBU utilized the Green Campus after receiving it, the Abbey and OBU enjoyed a wonderful collaborative friendship. Because of that friendship, two years of discussions ensued between OBU and the Abbey to find ways of mutual partnership for the benefit of both entities. Through the process, it became clear that the framework of a land exchange would benefit both parties. After two years, the land exchange was finalized with great celebration.

Regarding the exchange, Dr. Heath Thomas, President of OBU said, “We celebrate and honor the extraordinary generosity of the Green family for the donation of the Green Campus to OBU. It has served us well in the years that we have utilized it. A word of ‘thank you’ falls short of expressing the gratitude we have for the stewardship of the Green Campus. While we are honored to have stewarded this gift for the past several years, we are thrilled that the historic heritage of the Green Campus will go back to the Abbey. It is fitting and right. The parcels of land we receive will help us advance OBU’s mission into the future, and they will be a benefit for our community for years to come.”

At the direction of the OBU Board of Trustees ad hoc property committee, President Thomas and OBU personnel worked closely with the Abbey to come to this agreement that brings new opportunities for advancement to both the Abbey and the University.

“The monastic community is thrilled that our historic grounds and facilities once again are available for the benefit of our mission and ministries,” said Rt. Rev. Lawrence Stasyszen, O.S.B., Abbot of St. Gregory’s Abbey. “We are grateful to President Thomas and the leadership of OBU for working with us in such a positive way so that the complementary missions of OBU and the Abbey can continue to flourish and be of benefit to our many constituents.”

“We were pleased that these facilities dedicated to the Kingdom of God were entrusted to our brothers and sisters in Christ at OBU after the closure of St. Gregory’s University. Now they come back to the Abbey but will continue to be accessible to the needs of OBU. As we read in Proverbs 17:17, the bonds of Christian brothers are strengthened in times of adversity. Whether it be through the closure of St. Gregory’s University, or the ongoing aftermath of the 2023 tornado, our relationship has grown stronger in challenging times for the good of our institutions and of the broader community,” stated Abbot Lawrence.

He continued in saying, “We look forward to continuing our positive relationship with OBU to build up the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

About OBU: With its campus located in Shawnee, OBU offers nine bachelor’s degrees with more than 80 fields of study and five master’s degree programs. OBU has been rated as one of the top regional colleges and universities in the West by U.S. News and World Report for 32 consecutive years. Forbes.com consistently ranks OBU as a top university in Oklahoma and the Princeton Review has named OBU one of the best colleges and universities in the southwestern region of the United States for 19 consecutive years.