Green's proposed changes for ORU include power-sharing

Tulsa World/December 20, 2007

In return for a $62 million donation, Oral Roberts University's board of regents will be asked to share power, the Tulsa World has learned.

Mart Green, a Yukon businessman whose family founded the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores, released a statement to the World on Tuesday outlining his process for reform at the university.

Green is in Bethlehem in the West Bank, where his nonprofit film company is making a movie.

Green said his family plans to present a detailed proposal to ORU's regents in early 2008.

Green's family gave ORU an unconditional donation of $8 million last month and promised an additional $62 million if ORU accepts the proposal.

Green's statement says: "The proposal will focus on accepted twenty-first century shared governance principles. To help develop this pro posal, the Green family has retained several nationally renowned experts in Christian higher education."

The American Federation of Teachers describes shared governance as an administrative model "under which college faculty and staff participate in significant decisions concerning the operation of their institutions."

ORU's board of regents does not include any current faculty or staff members.

The board has 22 business regents and 18 spiritual regents, associate regents and regents emeritus. Under ORU's bylaws, those 18 do not have a vote in business and financial matters.

The bylaws give wide authority to Richard Roberts and Oral Roberts on spiritual matters, including the right to veto decisions by business regents on such matters.

Green's statement says the family is also examining ORU's current leadership model, outstanding litigation and overall university finances.

"Based on the advice we have received from experts in Christian higher education, we believe the future of ORU can be very bright," the statement says. "The ministry of Christian higher education is why students, faculty and alumni came to ORU.

"We hope our involvement will bring a focus to the issues this university continues to face. We are confident the changes that will be recommended will help secure the university's long-term viability."

Three former professors filed a lawsuit in October against ORU, Richard Roberts and his wife, Lindsay Roberts, and other defendants.

The suit includes allegations that the Roberts family misspent university and ministry money to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Richard Roberts resigned as ORU's president Nov. 23 but remains the CEO of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.

ORU said two evangelists, Creflo Dollar and Jesse Duplantis, have resigned from its board, and a third evangelist, Benny Hinn, lost his status as a voting member of the board.

Hinn and Dollar both refused to respond to questions by a U.S. senator who is investigating lavish spending by evangelists.

ORU's board said Monday that it had appointed a committee to oversee the separation of the university and the evangelistic association.

The university has said the spiritual connection between the entities would remain.

ORU also hired a consultant to help it search for a new president and formed a presidential search committee consisting of regents, administrators, faculty and staff members and others.

Despite Green's call for more transparency, ORU has refused to release the findings of an investigative report it commissioned from a Washington law firm.

The report examines allegations involving Richard Roberts and other issues.

Regents say they are carrying out its recommendations, including separating the ministry and university.

Records show that 14 of 15 key officers and trustees of the evangelistic association are also listed as key officers and trustees of ORU.

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