ORU President Mark Rutland details school's major turnaround in his new book
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, December 01, 2012
12/01/12 at 6:13 AM
Oral Roberts University at one point was "hanging on by a thread," ORU President Mark Rutland said Thursday in an interview about his latest book.
Rutland writes about ORU's comeback from scandal, lawsuits and near-bankruptcy in his soon-to-be-released 14th book: "ReLaunch: How to Stage an Organizational Comeback."
In it, he draws from his leadership experiences at ORU, as well as another university and a mega-church he helped revive.
Rutland came to ORU in 2009. He was the first president who was not a member of the family of ORU's founding president, Oral Roberts.
ORU faced three major crises in the wake of the resignation of President Richard Roberts in late 2007: looming bankruptcy, inadequate governance and lack of leadership, Rutland said.
A $70 million gift from the Green family of Oklahoma City, the founders of Mardel, and a new board of trustees helped alleviate the first two crises.
"I was brought in to supply the leadership," he said.
Rutland said that as he assessed the university's various systems, he was happy to find an excellent faculty that was working well.
However, the school was drowning in payroll, overstaffed and wrongly staffed, he said, which required layoffs and other difficult decisions.
Morale needed to be restored in the faculty, staff and students, who had gone through the crisis and were wondering if they would be able to complete their education at ORU.
Rutland said the ORU turnaround, and also the other two institutional turnarounds he has led, required a large personal expenditure.
"It's a huge mistake for leaders to underestimate the personal demands a turnaround will make on them," he said. "It's not like running an existing business."
"You've got to keep the ship moving. You've got to be constantly vigilant, or it will go back the way it was going."
After turning three institutions around, Rutland said he feels he has found himself in a kind of leadership niche, although he didn't plan it that way.
Before coming to Tulsa, he took over as president of the troubled Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., a college with its buildings in shambles, enrollment dropping and faculty demoralized.
Before that, he brought Calvary Church of Orlando, Fla., back from deep debt and plummeting attendance.
Leadership principles in his new book can be applied to churches, schools, businesses, and even families and individuals who have gone through crisis or decline and need a change in direction, he said.
"These are transferable concepts."
Rutland said he feels his work at ORU is finishing and has announced he will leave next summer.
A search is under way for a new president.
He and his wife, Alison, plan to move to the Gainesville, Ga., area, where he will preach twice a month at Free Chapel Church, a mega church, and will continue to write, speak, lecture and consult. He is director of the National Institute of Christian Leadership.
Book: "ReLaunch: How to Stage an Organizational Comeback" by Mark Rutland
Release date: Feb. 1, 2013
To preorder: tulsaworld.com/rutlandbook
Original Print Headline: ORU president details school's major turnaround
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
ORU President Mark Rutland: "I was brought in to supply the leadership."