Oral Roberts University selects next president, William "Billy" Wilson
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Friday, February 01, 2013
2/01/13 at 6:56 AM
William "Billy" Wilson, Oral Roberts University's next president, kneeled with his wife, Lisa Wilson, in Christ Chapel on campus Thursday afternoon as hundreds of students crowded around to pray for them.
A few minutes earlier, ORU Board of Trustees Chairman Mart Green had introduced the school's fourth president to students, faculty and guests, ending a nine-month search process that began last spring when President Mark Rutland announced that he would step down at the end of the 2013 spring semester.
Green thanked Rutland and his wife, Alison Rutland, "for the incredible job they've done."
He said Wilson was a visionary with a global outlook.
Wilson, 54, was selected from 170 candidates and has long ties to ORU.
He was vice chairman of the ORU Board of Trustees until he was elected president.
For the last seven years he has been executive director of the International Center for Spiritual Renewal in Cleveland, Tenn., where he directed Empowered 21, an initiative launched at ORU that has developed global partnerships to communicate "spirit-empowered" faith to the next generation. Spirit-empowered is the phrase he uses to describe the combined Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian movements.
Wilson said the Center for Spiritual Renewal works with leaders and churches worldwide to bring revival and renewal in three spheres: spiritual integrity, scriptural unity and social responsibility.
He said he did not seek the ORU position and that it is not what he and his wife would have chosen - they moved into their dream home in Tennessee just four months ago - but "we feel like we are doing what God wants us to do in this season of our lives. We're very excited and very honored."
"Oral Roberts University is really unique in all the world, especially to the Spirit-empowered movement," he said.
"ORU is a leader institution for the entire movement.
"Our high excellence, the accomplishment of our graduates and the impact that they have had speaks volumes.
"I meet ORU graduates all over the globe. Most of them are making huge differences to society, in ministry, in medicine, in all kinds of ways.
"It's been very exciting to me, and even more exciting now that I'll be leading this institution," he said.
After he was introduced, Wilson directed most of his comments to the hundreds of students who crowded into the chapel for the announcement.
"There are 7 billion people in the world, and none of them has your thumbprint," he told them.
"God has plans for you that are unique in all the world, and his plans are big.
"You are part of the greatest generation in the history of mankind. You have technology at your fingertips, and you are brilliant."
He said young people worldwide are looking for leaders with integrity and looking for spiritual mentors.
Wilson said he would begin his work at ORU by listening, praying and meeting with faculty, students, staff and alumni to learn "your needs, your dreams, what God is doing in your life."
"Lisa and I are committed to prayer. My ministry has been built on my knees," he said.
He asked the students to email him before April with their one greatest prayer need.
"I want to get to know you. I want to hear from you," he said. "We are going to be praying for every student by name."
He said he wants service to characterize ORU under his leadership.
"Greatness is measured by servanthood," he said.
"As I begin this journey, I want Oral Roberts University to excel as a servant institution ... serving the Tulsa community, Oklahoma, the nation and the world in a way that speaks of excellence and honors Christ."
"It is with gratitude ... and with fear and trembling that I begin this journey as your next president," he said.
Wilson is the second ORU president not in the family of Oral Roberts, founder of the school.
He is a native of Owensboro, Ky., and holds a master's degree and doctor's degree from Pentecostal Theological Seminary.
The Wilsons have a son who is pastoring a church in Lexington, Ky., and a daughter who is a missionary in Paraguay, each with three children.
ORU paper's faculty adviser resigns after error
Kevin Armstrong, the faculty adviser for The Oracle, Oral Roberts University's award-winning student newspaper, lost his job this week after the newspaper published a name of the school's new president before it was formally announced - and got it wrong.
The Oracle erroneously named a Texas pastor as the new president in its online edition about 15 minutes before the Wednesday chapel service at which the announcement was expected to be made.
The story was removed from the site after about 15 minutes, but not before it was widely spread through social media.
Speaking at the chapel service, ORU President Mark Rutland criticized the publication, calling it wrong and irresponsible.
Armstrong said Thursday: "Out of respect for the university that I will always love, and for my family's well-being, I have resigned from the university on amicable terms and will have no further comment."
ORU did not respond to a request for a statement.
An earlier email to staff and students said the announcement of the president was likely to be made at the Wednesday service.
In anticipation of the announcement, the Wednesday service was attended by media and local religious leaders, in addition to the ORU students and faculty. At the end of the service, Rutland said the Board of Trustees was still meeting and was not yet prepared to make the announcement.
On Thursday, the board announced that the new president will be William "Billy" Wilson, executive director of the International Center for Spiritual Renewal in Cleveland, Tenn.
William "Billy" Wilson
Original Print Headline: ORU selects next president
- Executive director, International Center for Spiritual Renewal, Cleveland, Tenn.
- Former vice chairman, ORU Board of Trustees
- Director, Empowered 21 initiative
- Executive officer, Azusa Street Centennial, 2006
- Author and speaker in 120 nations
- Bible teacher on "World Impact with Billy Wilson," weekly television program in 170 nations
- Doctoral degree from Pentecostal Theological Seminary
- Family: wife, Lisa, two children and six grandchildren
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Billy Wilson speaks to students and faculty after being named president of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa on Thursday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Billy Wilson (left) and his wife, Lisa Wilson, greet Oral Roberts freshman Lukas Wilson on Thursday. Wilson was named university president and will replace Mark Rutland, who plans to pursue other ministry opportunities. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World