53 at ORU laid off; 40 vacant posts cut
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Oral Roberts University laid off 53 employees Tuesday and eliminated about 40 vacant positions.
The layoffs, announced in November, will reduce ORU's annual budget by about $3.5 million, interim President Ralph Fagin said in a statement.
"Today is a difficult day for ORU because we had to notify some of the members of our ORU family of their inclusion in the reduction in force," he said. "We will continue to keep the departing employees and their families in our prayers."
The eliminated positions make up about 6 percent of ORU's work force, according to the statement.
Four faculty members included in the reduction will finish the academic year and receive 20 days of transition pay.
Other laid-off employees will stop working but will stay on ORU's payroll for two months.
ORU also is offering job-placement services for all employees affected by the layoffs.
ORU board Chairman Mart Green said in the statement that the decision to cut jobs was difficult but necessary.
"While this was a tough decision, it was an important step in keeping ORU on a positive financial track," he said. "ORU provides students an excellent, whole-person education, and this will ensure the university will continue this tradition for years to come."
ORU has been in dire financial straits since before the national economy went south. In 2007, ORU announced that it was $55 million in debt.
A capital fundraising campaign has reduced that to $16 million after Green and his family gave $70 million to keep the school afloat.
ORU has spent an untold amount in the last year fighting legal battles with former students and employees.
In late 2007, three professors sued for wrongful termination. Soon after, a student and a former accountant for Oral Roberts Ministries also sued.
Among other charges, the lawsuits claim that ORU's former president, Richard Roberts, and his wife, Lindsay Roberts, misspent university funds on themselves and their family.
The professors' lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.
ORU also agreed to pay Richard Roberts about $440,000 to honor his contract after he resigned amid the scandal in 2007.
A new president is expected to be announced this year.
Shannon Muchmore 581-8378