ORU mum on details of meeting
BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Projects Editor
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
11/27/07 at 11:02 AM
For more: Read the latest ORU stories, view the lawsuit and other documents and watch slide shows and video.
The regents' meeting follows Richard Roberts'
resignation on Friday as ORU president.
Despite calls from faculty for
greater transparency at Oral Roberts University, officials there
clamped down on information Monday, refusing to release even the
most basic details about a board of
Jeremy Burton, a spokesman for
ORU, refused to respond to questions from the Tulsa World, including who attended the meeting,
where it was held and what items
are on the agenda.
Burton said the university would
release information Tuesday, at the
conclusion of the two-day regents
The regents meeting follows Friday's resignation by Richard Roberts as president of ORU. Roberts remains as president and chief
executive officer of Oral Roberts
Roberts has been on leave since
Oct. 17 during an investigation that
he and his family misspent universi
ty and ministry resources. Many of
the claims are contained in a lawsuit
filed Oct. 2 by three former professors.
The regents were expected to discuss the search process and a replacement for Roberts. Regents
were also expected to hear the results of an outside investigation into
allegations that Roberts and his family misspent university and ministry
Last week, faculty members completed a survey regarding ORU's
leadership, its policies and related
issues. More than 80 percent said
they did not want Roberts to return
as president and nearly 90 percent of
the faculty thought the
school's current procedures
for financial disclosure and
accountability were inadequate.
Three of the regents are
under investigation by the
U.S. Senate: Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn and Creflo
Dollar. They were among six
televangelists who received
letters from Iowa Sen.
Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.
Grassley's letter asked the
ministers to answer questions about their compensation, housing allowances, luxury cars, private jets and
Bishop Carlton Pearson,
who served for 15 years on
ORU's board of regents, said
the board should change its
practice of withholding infor
mation. He said that is unlikely with several of the board's
members under scrutiny.
''In the past that was our
rule because that's what the
Roberts family wanted, but
right now, they are going to
have to come clean with everything.
''They are also trying to
protect the image of these
other guys and they are going
to be a little more guarded because these men and women
have raised millions for the
university through their ministry.''
Pearson, who attended
ORU, was a regent until he
fell out of favor with the
school several years ago
when he adopted a universalist theology, that because of
what Christ did, all people
will go to heaven.
Pearson said he was surprised by Roberts' resignation.
''I did not expect it to happen quite so soon. I thought it
would have been something
that would have been an absolute last resort.''
Pearson said he expects
Roberts to maintain a connection with the university and
that the regents will ensure
he and his family are financially secure. He said he feels
sorry for Roberts.
''When you spend your life
impersonating who you think
people want you to be, you
forget who you are,'' Pearson
said. ''He tried to live up to his
''My heart goes out to Richard and I wouldn't trade positions with him for anything.''
Ole Anthony, founder of a
religious watchdog group
called the Trinity Foundation,
said allegations that the Roberts family lived a lavish lifestyle funded by ministry donations are nothing new.
''We did a six-month undercover investigation back in
the early 1990s,'' he said. ''It
was the same thing, unbelievably extravagant lifestyles
and spending without any
constraints. It was just way
over the top.''
Anthony said to save ORU,
which is $52 million in debt,
''a real board of regents with
some academic credentials
would need to be named.''
''I know what a lot of people
wish would happen, and
that's that the university
changes directions. It's got
enough backing and people
that they don't need a healing
Ziva Branstetter 581-8378
remains the head of
the Oral Roberts