I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on this blog before (because it isn’t something I’m particularly proud of) that I received my Bachelor’s degree from Oral Roberts University. When I say that I’m not “proud”, I’m not talking about the quality of the education that I received there. On the contrary, I think that their academics when I attended were excellent — largely because Oral (who was president at the time) and other high-ranking administration officials purposely ignored the curricula, leaving that in the more capable hands of the faculty. In fact, Oral had a stated policy at that time that he would not read any book published by a faculty member, so he wouldn’t be forced to fire them. No, what has embarrassed me about ORU ever since I was a sophomore is its hollow, camera-facing facade: the image portrayed to television viewers across the nation of a highly homogenous, straight-laced but happy population of brothers and sisters in Christ who all think that the Oral Roberts ministry is the best thing since the original Pentecost.
Despite his showmanship, I’ve always believed that Oral was basically sincere. I really do think he believes that what he preaches is the truth. I don’t feel the same way about his son, Richard. Even back when he and his first wife, Patti, led the World Action Singers (we liked to call them the “Worldly Action Swingers”) on stage, he has always impressed me as the central incarnation of the insincerity and hypocrisy that infected the Oral Roberts ministry and spread into the university. He was the spoiled child of a great father. Before he divorced his first wife, the official policy of the University and the Oral Roberts Evangelical Association was to terminate anyone who got divorced. Any guesses as to when that policy was modified?
After I left ORU, I tried to have as little to do with the place as possible. I became even more disgusted with it when Richard Roberts assumed the presidency in 1993. The Alumni Association keeps sending me mail and email, mostly looking for contributions, which I often report as spam. But one message I received this morning caught my eye. It quoted the following statement from George Pearsons, Chairman of the ORU Board of Regents:
Today, a letter was sent from Richard Roberts to the Board of Regents of Oral Roberts University tendering his resignation as President of Oral Roberts University effective today, November 23, 2007.
The Board of Regents will meet Monday and Tuesday, November 26 and 27, 2007 to determine action in the search process for a new president.
Executive Regent Billy Joe Daugherty will continue to assume administrative responsibilities of the Office of the President, working together with Chancellor Oral Roberts, until the Regents meeting.
In his letter of resignation to the Board, Richard Roberts said, “I love ORU with all my heart. I love the students, faculty, staff and administration and I want to see God’s best for all of them.”
I had been completely unaware of a scandal brewing at ORU involving the alleged misappropriation of funds and personnel for personal and political purposes, centering on none other than Richard Roberts.
Here’s a brief timeline of the University’s history. How we used to joke about that 900-foot Jesus! The bronze hands in front of the City of Faith turned green almost as soon as they were put in place — a color that many students and faculty members considered apt. But the position of the hands is not correct — they should have been outstretched to receive your cash.
It seems that I’m not the only one happy to see King Richard abdicate.
As I said, I haven’t been keeping up with anyone at ORU. I don’t know if any of my old professors are still there, or how the academic quality has fared after all the money left. I wish them all the best — but before they can get better they’ve got to get real.