Oral Roberts University has been going through the ringer lately. You know, having a president with a case of self-entitlement the size of this hair gel account and him bringing along a wife who has a hankering for cute co-eds and some text messaging will do that for a college. OMG!
Now, the lineage is gone (as is the endowment… allegedly), the frisky woman and her hot flashes have vanished, the debt is still an anchor around its academic neck and no leadership in sight… until now.
So, did they learn from their lesson, find a real academic and leave the TBN crowd behind? According to this story from the Tulsa World, um, kinda.
A pastor and missionary who turned a small Christian college into a recognized liberal arts university was named Wednesday as the candidate for president of Oral Roberts University... Mark Rutland is the author of 13 books and has a 30-minute syndicated daily radio program, “Herald of Joy.” He has also founded ministries in Ghana and Thailand.
So, we have a radio preacher here with a sterling reputation for hooking up megachurches to not pay its taxes?! Hrm.
ORU revealed in 2007 it was $55 million in debt, but a fundraising campaign has cut that amount to about $16 million. A 2006 article in the Tampa Tribune referred to Rutland as a “turnaround man” based on his success in saving a megachurch in Florida that was $15 million in debt.
Multiply that kerfuffle by four and you have the trouble brewing at the Oral Roberts University. Rutland is an educator, but has been a missionary all his life. Trust me, this is a field to sow some seeds of accountability, deliverance, redemption and trust. Those are his lost children and the angst of public perception will be his persecution.
“I believe that the first thing that needs to happen is, at the wider constituencies at Oral Roberts, trust has to be restored,” he said. “The kind of balanced and thoughtful leadership has to happen there that can restore the goodwill of their constituencies and restore the confidence of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the world.”
Well, he’s off to a great start. He agrees with me. Good times and keep your eyes peeled, Wall Watchers.