Roberts: Trouble foretold
BY APRIL MARCISZEWSKI World Staff Writer
Sunday, November 18, 2007
6/22/08 at 1:31 AM
For more: Read the latest ORU stories, view the lawsuit and other documents and watch slide shows and video.
According to Richard
Roberts, he received the
prophecy six months ago.
Six months ago, an out-of-state minister
known for prophecy told Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts he would
go through a "major storm" but would come
The minister also
said, "When you enter
your 60th year, you'll
step to a new level of
ministry you've never
known," Roberts recalled in an interview
with the Tulsa World.
his 59th birthday on
Monday and then began his 60th year, six
weeks after three former ORU professors
filed a lawsuit claiming
wrongful termination and alleging the Roberts family has misused ORU and Oral Roberts Ministries money and resources for
Roberts is on a leave of absence as president while
ORU's board and independent
auditors investigate the allegations. After the investigations,
the board will decide if Roberts returns to the presidency.
He continues to work as chairman and CEO of the ministries.
He doesn't expect to be
president forever, although he
thinks now is his season in
that role, he said. He sees himself taking on a spiritual leadership role at ORU, "be it
chancellor or whatever." His
father, 89-year-old ORU founder Oral Roberts, is currently
Richard Roberts said he has
a hard time imagining the university without a Roberts.
"I'm the face; I'm the voice,"
Roberts thinks the ORU
president ought to be someone "deeply immersed" in the
evangelistic, healing ministry
that created the university and
someone who has "the call of
God upon their life to be the
Roberts and his father don't
want to see the university split
from the ministries or taken
over by "the money people," in
fear that such steps would
point ORU toward becoming a
secular college, Roberts said.
ORU Provost Mark Lewandowski said he thinks professors are "intensely committed
to defending the mission of the university" and ORU
would not lose its Christian focus without a Roberts at the
In the late 1980s, then-President Oral Roberts asked four
people -- including one pastor
and two seminary deans -- if
they would consider being
presented to the board of regents as possibilities for the
presidency, Richard Roberts
said. All four turned him
At that point, Richard Roberts had already started his career, first working as his father's longtime assistant. He
went on to found World Action
Singers and then accompanied Oral Roberts to ORU faculty and deans' meetings and
City of Faith construction
meetings "so I could learn
(about ORU) in case the call of
God was on my life."
He wants to provide his
daughters from his marriage
with Lindsay Roberts with the
same exposure to ministry,
and he said they are already
integral parts of it. Jordan, 22,
graduated from ORU, and Olivia, 20, and Chloe, 18, withdrew from ORU this semester
after the lawsuit was filed.
Roberts said the younger two
daughters hope to return as
"I don't want to push any
family member into any role,"
he said. "I have no idea if the
call of God is on anyone in my
family after me."
He doesn't think Provost Lewandowski has been called to
be president, he said.
Lewandowski, also the executive vice president of academic affairs, offered the
board of regents his resignation on Thursday, saying that
if Roberts remains as president, he could not "in good
conscience serve under his
Lewandowski's letter to the
board chairman described a
"culture of fear" promoted by
Roberts' management style
and said Roberts has not addressed ORU's increasing
"If ever there was a power
play, that was what that was,"
Roberts said in response to Lewandowski's letter. "I am saddened to see that he wants to
be president of the university
Lewandowski declined to
respond to Roberts' assertion.
Roberts said he loves the
Lewandowskis but was
shocked and saddened.
Lewandowski said earlier:
"The faculty, the administration and the students love and
appreciate Richard as a person, but we feel that it's time
for a new leader and a new era
at Oral Roberts University."
Lewandowski called for professors to take on governance
at ORU and run the college,
which he thinks they're more
willing and prepared to do
than a year ago. Accreditation
representatives who visited
ORU this month also called for
stronger faculty governance,
He has sensed excitement
on campus, especially among employees, and "optimism
that our greatest days are in
front of us," he said.
On Monday, a quorum of
tenured faculty voted "no confidence" in Roberts as president -- without regard to the
outcome of the lawsuit and
without judging ORU's or Roberts' guilt or innocence. They
also voted "confidence" in Lewandowski's "call for greater
faculty governance and transparency of university finances."
Lewandowski said: "The
reason for my offer to resign is
I didn't see the board of regents looking out for the best
interest of the faculty and the
students. It became apparent
to me that someone had to
speak on behalf of the faculty
who very courageously made
a statement of no confidence."
Roberts said that if the
board chooses to keep him as
president, he would have an
open dialogue with faculty every two weeks and would
bring about change at ORU.
"I believe if I'm given a second chance, I'll have an opportunity to do a lot better job and
have not only a better relationship with the tenured faculty
but with all faculty," he said.
He has been president since
His "heart," he said, is not to
perpetuate a "culture of fear,"
as Lewandowski wrote.
"If that's the perception,
then I am wrong for allowing
that perception to be there,"
It's natural for some employees to fear their bosses,
he said, and "when you're a
strong leader, sometimes you
give off an aura that you don't
April Marciszewski 581-8475
He doesn’t expect to
be president forever
but believes now is