Regents take stronger role after lawsuit
BY APRIL MARCISZEWSKI World Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
10/24/07 at 9:29 AM
For more: Read the latest stories, view the lawsuit and other documents and watch slide shows and video.
ORU's governing board has
become more "hands-on" amid the
university's legal turmoil, the panel's
Oral Roberts University's board of regents is stepping up its role at the college following allegations
made in a lawsuit, Chairman George Pearsons said in
an interview Tuesday.
"The board is very quickly becoming . . . much more
hands-on," said Pearsons, pastor of Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas.
Its role is to set and oversee policy, he said.
"The board has the oversight of the university, and
we're responsible for what goes on," he said. "We have
every right to ask questions, to investigate."
Three former ORU professors have sued ORU, its
board, its president and three other administrators for
allegedly wrongfully firing them or forcing them to resign. Their lawsuit and an attached report contain allegations of misconduct by President Richard Roberts and his
family, among other claims.
Pearsons said he received
the report that is attached to
the lawsuit about two weeks
before the lawsuit was filed.
A few days before the lawsuit
hit, the board's audit and
compliance committee started an investigation into the
allegations, he said. The investigation continues.
On Tuesday, the board
signed a contract with a
Washington law firm that will
oversee an independent audit
of the allegations, Pearsons
said. He said he needed permission from attorneys to
name the firm, but he said
the board had searched for a
company that was high-profile, out of state and had never done business with ORU.
"I have to prove we are not
sweeping anything under the
rug," he said. "Everything's
on the table -- nothing to
ORU is working to regain
the confidence of the community, alumni and others,
Pearsons said he and Co-Interim President Billy Joe
Daugherty, co-pastor of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, agree that the investigations need to cover ORU's
hiring and firing procedures
-- and everything related to
the lawsuit's allegations.
"We're just really taking a
hard look at ourselves," he
said. "Every decision we (regents) make must be in the
best interest of the university."
Pearsons became the
board chairman about five
months ago and expected to
focus on raising money for
ORU, he said. He compared
his shifted attention to President George W. Bush's focus
on domestic issues before
the terrorist attacks on Sept.
"This is a warning to other
boards just how serious it is
that they do their job," Pearsons said.
One of the professors suing ORU, John Swails, said
this week that Roberts once
referred to ORU as "my university."
But two weeks ago, Roberts' wife, Lindsay Roberts,
said she and her husband
had submitted themselves to
the board of regents, which
decided when the couple
would speak publicly about
the lawsuit and will decide
when and if Richard Roberts
returns from his leave of absence to resume his presidency.
Regarding ORU's long-term future, Pearsons said he
thinks ORU's founding purpose of evangelism will carry
the college forward without a
prominent personality, such
as Oral or Richard Roberts, at
April Marciszewski 581-8475