ORU worth saving, donor family says
BY APRIL MARCISZEWSKI World Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
8/18/08 at 11:46 AM
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Mart Green's family made an unusual move when it donated $70 million to an organization in trouble financially and in need of leadership changes, Green said Monday at a Tulsa Press Club Page One Luncheon.
The donation to Oral Roberts University also was five times bigger than any gift the family had made, he said.
"Why would we give to something that's not doing that well?" he asked.
The answer: ORU's graduates. The Green family had come in contact with them and knew that they had received a quality education.
President Richard Roberts' resignation in November signaled to the Greens that Roberts thought the university was more important than his own reputation, Green said.
The Green family decided to make an offer.
"We as a family have stepped in and said, 'ORU is worth keeping,' " he said.
Mart Green founded the Mardel Christian & Education retail chain, and his father, David Green, founded the Hobby Lobby chain. With those backgrounds, tackling the faltering business aspects of ORU looked a lot easier than producing quality graduates, which ORU does "really, really, really well," Mart Green said.
ORU received the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's 2007 Award for Institutional Progress in Student Learning Outcomes, for implementing a program that helps faculty members determine whether students are becoming spiritually alive, intellectually alert, physically disciplined, socially adept and professionally competent — that is, fulfilling ORU's mission of whole-person education, according to Green and a December 2006 ORU news release.
"What you measure, you get better at," Green said. "We're only going to get better."
That said, he sees four "dragons" that ORU needs to slay: its debt, deferred maintenance on the campus, declining enrollment and its deficit.
Enrollment for fall is 97 students fewer than last year at this time, but the gap between last year's enrollment and this year's has been shrinking, he said.
Green sees specific enrollment goals as the domain of the new president, whom ORU hopes to have in place by summer 2009 or sooner, he said.
Decisions about new buildings — including ORU's long-planned student center — also will fall to the president. Trustees and administrators are focusing on bringing existing buildings up to date.
Green said he will remain chairman of the board of trustees as long as the trustees keep him in that position.
He said he expects to stay involved at ORU long-term, although he does not know what form that will take. In time, his involvement will become less visible, he said.
"I'm more excited about ORU today than I was back in November," Green said. "We have incredible faculty, incredible students."
April Marciszewski 581-8475