St. Gregory's Students, Faculty Return To Quake-Damaged Building

Tuesday, January 10th 2012, 7:16 pm
By: News 9

Two months after a 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook one of its oldest buildings, St. Gregory's University is finally getting back to a "new" normal.

Last November's strong earthquake toppled one of Benedictine Hall's four turrets, and construction crews had to knock down another for safety purposes just days later. University students and faculty were forced to evacuate the nearly-century-old building and find other space.

"We were trying to combine all of our offices and all of our classrooms into basically a couple buildings," said Brad Collins. Collins is the Director of Public Relations for St. Gregory's University. "It got a little tight."

The Rockwood Center, just a few yards away, got stretched to its limits. Students and faculty were crammed into every available space.

That all changed this week, as the entire campus prepared for the beginning of the spring semester.

"It's kinda nice to have our own space," said student government president Tim Fernandez. "We love our teachers but we like to be away from them at the same time."

Kris Arnold, assistant to the registrar, said employees had to move almost all of the office contents to the other building.

"We definitely have a lot of papers, a lot of stamps," Arnold said. "Envelopes, letterheads, y'know, all that stuff."

Arnold said although it's good to be back in Benedictine Hall, Arnold said she's sad to see the turret-less changes to the building's exterior.

"It's weird to see this building without 'em," Arnold said. "It's not the castle building without the turrets."

Collins agrees. He's heard the same sentiment from others in the area.

"Alumni, friends of the university, residents of Shawnee, residents of Oklahoma, they all know this building," said Collins. "It's part of the Shawnee skyline, it's an icon."

The university has raised about a third of the funds needed to replace the turrets. It hopes to start rebuilding them by the summer.