ORU will separate legally, financially from ORM
BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Projects Editor
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
For more: Read the latest ORU stories, view the lawsuit and other documents and watch slide shows and video.
The Roberts family
will no longer have a say
in the school's business
Oral Roberts University will separate legally and financially from the
ministry that created it, and the university's founding family will have
no role in the school's future business affairs, ORU regents announced Wednesday.
Meanwhile, at the conclusion of a
two-day, closed-door meeting, the
regents refused to release the findings from an outside investigation of
the school's finances but said reforms stemming from the investigation are in the works.
"By unanimous decision of the
board, it was decided that the university will take every step necessary to separate ORU and the Oral
Roberts Evangelistic Association as a legal, financial, accounting and governance
matter," said George Pearsons, the regents' chairman.
"However, the spiritual
connection between the two
organizations will remain."
Richard Roberts, who resigned Friday as ORU's president, will remain the CEO of
the evangelistic association,
Roberts' wife, Lindsay Roberts, resigned as a spiritual
regent of ORU about one
month ago, Pearsons said.
"She just felt like in the best
interest of the university, it
would be best for her to step
aside," he said.
Richard Roberts and Oral
Roberts remain as the only
"lifetime spiritual regents" on
ORU's board but will not have
a vote in any business matters, Pearsons said.
The board accepted Richard Roberts' resignation, and
Billy Joe Daugherty, the pastor of Victory Christian Center, will remain the school's
acting president during a
search for a new president,
which could take months,
"The board wishes Richard
the very best, and we thank
him for his 15 years of service
to the university," he said.
External investigation: The
regents met with the ORU
faculty earlier Tuesday.
Three former professors
claim in an Oct. 2 lawsuit that
they were forced from their
jobs after they brought allegations of financial excesses by
the Roberts family to the regents' attention.
Those allegations include
assertions that the family's
personal expenses were
charged to the ministry or
university. The alleged charges include a $29,000 senior
trip to the Bahamas for a
daughter of Richard and Lindsay Roberts and $39,000
worth of clothing for Lindsay
Richard Roberts has said
his family has always reimbursed the university or ministry for any personal expenses.
The lawsuit's allegations
led the regents to ask a a
Washington law firm, Miller
& Chevalier, to review the
The regents received the
firm's report during their two-day meeting, which ended
Tuesday. The findings of the
investigation were not made
Pearsons said that because
of the litigation, "we are not
able to go into details . . ., but
I must say all of the recommendations that were given
to us, the board was extremely attentive to every one of
When asked whether the
investigation found that money had been misspent, Pearsons said: "That I can't get into with you specifically, but
there are a lot of things that
are being corrected and we
are looking at right now."
Roberts family homes: Richard Roberts and his family
will be allowed to live in a university-owned home "for the
time being," Pearsons said.
Property records show that
ORU owns nine single-family
residential properties north
of the campus, together valued at $4,173,400.
The properties range in value from a $193,000 house,
built in 1965 and encompassing 2,831 square feet, to Richard Roberts' $1.436 million
home, records show.
That home, a 6,782-square-foot house with four fireplaces and five full baths, was
built in 1986.
Roberts' home and one valued at $246,800 have been
granted exemptions from Tulsa County property taxes under a state provision granted
to private schools. It is unclear whether that exemption
would continue if Roberts no
longer holds an ORU title.
Missing regents: All but
three of the school's 24 voting
board members attended the
meeting. Pearsons would not
say which regents were absent.
Three regents -- the evangelists Benny Hinn, Creflo
Dollar and Kenneth Copeland
-- are under investigation by
the U.S. Senate's Finance
The three were not present
at a press conference Tuesday in in ORU's chapel. Most
of the other regents were.
Before the press conference, regents met with students, who could be heard
cheering loudly behind the
chapel's closed doors.
Splitting up: Separating
ORU and the evangelical association "was actually an
agreement many years ago
with the IRS and over time
they have blended together,"
Although the two are separate nonprofit entities, 14 of
the 15 key officers and trustees of the evangelical association are also listed as key officers and trustees of ORU.
The ministry spent most of
its $12 million in revenue last
fiscal year on its weekly television shows, direct mail and
other outreach efforts.
Separating the two won't be
simple, Pearsons said.
"There's a lot of overlap
that takes place, and so we
just have to sit down, go
through that and make sure
the proper separation is
there," he said.
Oral Roberts: Pearsons said
Richard Roberts and Oral
Roberts would no longer be
involved in the university's
Oral Roberts, as the
school's chancellor, "is still
working very closely with Billy Joe Daugherty on the day-to-day activities at the university and will continue to do so
until such time as the new
president is installed," Pearsons said.
"As spiritual regents, they
do not have a vote on the
board, and any decisions that
are made by this board are by
a vote," he said.
The chairman said Richard
Roberts and Oral Roberts understand the need for the
"They are very willing to do
whatever it takes to comply
with the IRS and whatever
the board deems necessary
for us to be financially stable,"
Ziva Branstetter 581-8378