ORU reduces debt to $19 million
BY JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS Associated Press
Friday, August 15, 2008
8/15/08 at 3:51 PM
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Oral Roberts University, which found itself more than $50 million in the red last fall amid a spending scandal involving its former president, has whittled down its debt to around $19 million, the school said Friday.
A large chunk of the debt, $30 million, has been paid off by billionaire Oklahoma City businessman Mart Green, who took the reins at the evangelical school in January with a $70 million donation.
Green is the founder of Mardel, a Christian bookstore and office supply chain.
The school also said it has raised nearly $5.8 million from thousands of donors to trim the debt to $19.2 million.
Through the school's Renewing the Vision campaign, every dollar given to ORU is being matched by school leaders toward the remaining debt, up to $25 million.
"With a focus on fiscal responsibility for the university, the board of trustees is matching every donation, dollar for dollar, to pay off the remaining debt," Green, the chairman of the university's board of trustees, said in a statement Friday. "I am excited and thankful for the support from our alumni and friends."
Last fall, ongoing campus maintenance costs and low financial support from donors had put the school in a financial crunch.
The school was also dealing with a spending scandal involving former president Richard Roberts, who was accused along with his wife, Lindsay, of dropping money on shopping sprees, home improvements and a stable of horses for their daughters. Both have repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
Roberts, the son of school founder Oral Roberts, resigned as president in November.
The couple still faces a lawsuit brought by two former professors, Tim and Paulita Brooker, who claim they were forced out after alleging financial and ethical wrongdoing on the part of Roberts and his family.
The Robertses are also named in a lawsuit brought by Trent Huddleston, a former senior accountant at ORU, who is suing for wrongful termination.
He alleges he was ordered to help "cook the books" by hiding improper and illegal financial wrongdoing and directed against his will to falsely list thousands of dollars as expenses rather than assets to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.
Richard Roberts resigned days after Huddleston's suit was filed.
Oral Roberts University has whittled down its debt to around $19 million.