Oral Roberts University President Steps Down

Richard Roberts Wow. My Alma Matter is in the news today: (thanks for the heads-up, Trait!)

Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts issued a written statement on Wednesday saying he is taking an indefinite leave of absence, following intense scrutiny spawned by financial, political and other allegations raised in a lawsuit.

This announcement comes eight days after Roberts said on national television: “I have not done anything wrong for which I needed to step aside.”

Billy Joe Daugherty, pastor of Victory Christian Center, has been named executive regent and will lead the university while Roberts is on leave, said George Pearsons, chairman of ORU’s board of regents.

On one hand, I’m astonished. For the first time *ever* a non-Roberts is at the helm of the university. Personally, I think it should have been that way from the beginning. But on the other hand, it’s Billy Joe Daugherty — possibly the most like-minded-evangelical-loyalist-minister-from-right-across-the-street they could have found. And apparently, Richard is still living in the mansion, getting paid, and calling the shots for all the related non-university ministries.

Obviously, I’m not qualified to pass judgment on the allegations. Oh, heck with that, yes I am. The deeper they dig in this investigation, the more twisted and illegal activity they’ll find. During my last year at ORU, I was the student body president — I ran on an “anti-administration” platform (because I thought the university was irresponsible with student money, among other things). When I was elected, rather than address the concerns of the students who had put me in office, the administration immediately took steps to isolate me and cut off my access to people and sources of information that were granted to both my predecessors and those who succeeded me. Gee — I wonder why they did that?

I’ve also watched them (and by “them” I mean Lindsay Roberts, who holds no official position in the University) repeatedly fire qualified administrators throughout the years the second they raised any legitimate concerns about the Roberts family. All were immediately replaced by extreme loyalists. I think George W. Bush must’ve studied the leadership and management technique of ORU before he took office. Come to think of it, there are a lot of similarities between Richard and George. Except I think George Bush is more open, honest, and responsible, and oh my God — did I just say that???

I’d better stop before I get too worked up, here. And I was doing so good with my “ORU bitterness recovery” the last few years…

UPDATE: Richard Roberts has officially and permanently resigned, and the board of regents has voted to officially separate (legally and financially) ORU from the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Assocation (basically, the Roberts family ministry organization). This is great news! A new era begins, and I hope ORU will rise to the occasion. You can read up to date coverage here.

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9 Responses to Oral Roberts University President Steps Down

  1. Mark says:

    I had no idea you were an ORU grad! I studied across town at TU, where ORU jokes were a dime a dozen. My favorite:

    Did you hear that Oral released an LP? The problem is that nobody can play it. The hole keeps healing itself.

    The Tulsa newspapers (there was more than one back in the ’80s) were forever doing exposes of the Roberts family. It’s good to know that things finally caught up with them.

    My cousin went to ORU and it took her years to recover. Now that I know about your tortured past, I’ll add healing from ORU induced PTSD to my list of prayers for you.

  2. Neal Locke says:

    Wow — I guess I am one big walking prayer list these days, huh? And thus I head off to seminary…

    Actually, on a better day, I can look at my experiences at ORU and be grateful. They taught me that even when you disagree with someone theologically, philosophically, and politically, you can still sit down across the table and be great friends. In fact, the guy who tipped me off to this story (Trait) was the Chairman of ORU College Republicans while I was the President (and often sole member) of ORU Young Democrats. And I can’t think of a more steadfast and generous friend than him through the years. ORU is full of people like that. Which is perhaps one reason it hurts to see her resources (human and financial) so mismanaged and mangled like this.

    When were you at TU? You just went up a few notches in my esteem — I have a fondness in my heart for Okies!

  3. Trait says:

    Neal, many thanks for the kind words in your comments. That’s one of the reasons I treasure my time at ORU as well. As a freshman, I had an awesome orientation leader who shepherded me into leadership at the school. For that, I am eternally grateful. Through those experiences, I became the person I am today.

    As far as Roberts leave of absence is concerned, if I read the situation correctly, I think there may be a bit of hope here. A couple weeks ago, he denied everything on Larry King and adamantly indicated he wouldn’t step down. Now, do you believe he had a sudden change of heart? Neither do I. He was compelled to step down by the regents. I have no information to back this up, but I believe Billy Joe resigned from the board recently when the regents refused to do anything about the document that Swails and Brooker presented to them. Now that things have run amuck, I think they called him back knowing that he would be a force for rationalism and accountability in this mess. Is he the best person to lead the school long term? Heck no! But, I think he is an apt choice for right now.

    PS I think our political views have gotten closer over the years. You’ve come a little to the right on some things and I’ve gone a little to the left on others. Either way, it’s always a darned good conversation.

  4. Neal Locke says:

    @Trait: Shhhh! Don’t tell my liberal audience that I’m becoming a libertarian! You’ll steal the thunder of my forthcoming blog post…

    And I didn’t know that about BJ Daugherty, but if you’re right about his reasons for resigning initially, then he does go up somewhat in my esteem. Ultimately, I’d like to see the board of regents become less a collection of televangelists and mega-church pastors, and a more diverse body that includes professional educators, non-profit administrators, a few business types, and (god forbid) a voting student body president, too!

  5. Dante says:

    Haha, you are becoming a libertarian.

    I can’t shake the fact that I have heard the name of Billy Joe Daugherty before. I just don’t know where.

  6. Mark says:

    Anyone who’s on his or her way to seminary needs a lot of prayers. 😉

    I was at TU from 1982-1987. I squeezed four years into five, majored in Religion, and minored in Biblical Languages and Computer Science. My mom’s a TU alumna. I read all her alumni mailings when I was in high school, and that’s how I ended up applying there — that and the fact that it’s a PCUSA related university. I received a fantastic liberal arts education.

    (Don’t get terribly excited about my CS minor. My first two semesters I had to submit my programs on punch cards. Then they bought a VAX mainframe and we could submit on terminals, though we still had to wait for our printouts at the help desk. The personal computing lab was opened during my junior year and was filled with first generation IBM PCs. Finally, I didn’t have to type my papers on a typewriter! The PCs even had Greek fonts, though I had to write the Hebrew in by hand. Oooo, those were heady times!)

    I’m actually a native Texan, but I have family in Tulsa. My grandfather, who died before I was born, moved there with his family in 1937 and set up a steel fabrication plant, Creamer and Dunlap, that did a fair business during and after WWII. He was a well-respected businessman and a deacon at First Presbyterian Church.

    Tulsa is a beautiful city. I have fond memories.

    But I digress. The good news is that things might be looking up for ORU. I hope so.

  7. Michael says:

    WOW… Trait and Neal’s political views have grown closer?!?! Something strange is happening here…. LOL… (And Trait, hope you’re well sir…)

    Seriously…. There are times (albeit few and far between) when I miss being a student at ORU…. But then the reality of life steps in and I can’t complain to be long since gone and living the non-ORU life. That said…

    I’m not completely convinced that RR is more than guilty-by-association. I’ve always thought of him more as the “dumb country boy” who just didn’t know any better than to do what LR told him. That said, you were a whole lot closer to the fray than I was….

    Sometime when I’m next through Dallas (actually there almost weekly on layovers, maybe I should book one of them longer than usual), we need to go out and have a drink (koolaid, of course, the price of the drink+the $50 fine is just way too costly) and catch up…

  8. Pingback: Mr. Locke’s Classroom » GJL, GJW, ORU, and Little Old Me

  9. Mike Mitchell says:

    Hey Neal, how excited I was to come across your web page. Can you remember being “Dean for a Day?” WOW, it has been a long time, (1996) since I became a causality of Lindsay Roberts. You could not have said it any better or more truthfully than in the quote below I took from your article on “Oral Roberts University President Steps Down.”

    “I’ve also watched them (and by “them” I mean Lindsay Roberts, who holds no official position in the University) repeatedly fire qualified administrators throughout the years the second they raised any legitimate concerns about the Roberts family. All were immediately replaced by extreme loyalists.” (In my case, Jeff Ogle)

    I have been at First Methodist Church as the Minister of Planned Giving since I left ORU. If it were not for Lindsay, I would still be at ORU. I loved ORU and as a former student and administrator, I spent a total of 17 years of my life there and loved every minute of it! It was tough to get dismissed, especially after my team had built what Dr. Hamilton called the finest Student Services program in the history of ORU. But Neal, I will always remember the wonderful almost full-page note you sent me encouraging me when I was on the way out.

    It is GREAT to see you doing well. ORU has always attracted AWESOME people like you and you certainly added to the “what makes ORU great” while you were there. Your son is adorable and I am happy you are so blessed.

    I believe glorious days are ahead for ORU like never before. The freedom that is there now is like never before in its history. Go ORU!!!

    Hope to see you some time. Maybe now I will feel free to go back on campus. Do something GREAT Neal, you were made for and are so capable to accomplish something GREAT!

    GO! GO!! GO!!!

    Dr. Mike Mitchell
    former Dean of Enrollment Management


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