New ORU president says he has founder's blessing
BY BILL SHERMAN AND SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writers
Friday, January 30, 2009
1/30/09 at 2:41 AM
Oral Roberts informally handed the care of the university he founded to its incoming president last week.
Southeastern University President Mark Rutland, named the new Oral Roberts University president Wednesday, and ORU board Chairman Mart Green had flown to California, where they met with Roberts, 91.
"It was a great meeting with Oral," said Rutland, who has met the evangelist several times.
"He was sweet, generous. It was what I would call a handoff. It was like he said to us, 'Here, take this university make it better.'
"He was really gracious."
Rutland said he has never met Richard Roberts, Oral Roberts' son, who resigned as ORU's president in late 2007.
Rutland will start at ORU on July 1 after 10 years at Southeastern University, a Christian liberal arts college in Lakeland, Fla.
Green announced Thursday that the Hobby Lobby store chain founded and owned by his family has donated $10 million to Southeastern. The family also owns Mardel, a Christian bookstore and office supply chain.
Green's family had donated $70 million to save ORU from mounting debt. His principles of shared governance and financial transparency have helped the school refocus on its mission.
The donation to Southeastern will be paid over the next five years in $2 million increments.
Green said in a letter to Southeastern's trustees that he was moved to make the contribution after he visited the campus.
"As a result of recent visits to the campus of Southeastern University, we are impressed with the vibrant programs of Christian higher education and the beautiful facilities and campus," he wrote. "It is our hope that the financial assistance will only increase SEU's current financial strength."
In an e-mailed statement, Hobby Lobby CEO David Green said the donation is good for both ORU and Southeastern.
"Facing a difficult decision on his professional future, Dr. Mark Rutland shared his firm commitment to reducing Southeastern's debt before making any decisions about his future," he said.
"Mart came to me and our family and after prayerful thought, our family decided we could independently fulfill Dr. Rutland's financial commitment to Southeastern while also fulfilling a strong call Mart and the search committee felt from the Lord that Dr. Rutland would accomplish wonderful things at ORU."
Bill Sherman 581-8398, Shannon Muchmore 581-8378
Mark Rutland: He met with Oral Roberts last week, accompanied by ORU's board chairman, Mart Green. The school he is leaving, Southeastern University of Lakeland, Fla., is going to receive $10 million over five years from the Green family, which has donated $70 million to rescue ORU.