Oral Roberts University tries to regroup

By Laurie Bennett

November 28, 2007 at 3:33pm

Oral Roberts University, reeling from debt and allegations of misspending, announced yesterday that it is separating from the ministries headed by Richard Roberts, who has resigned from the college presidency.

“By unanimous decision of the board, it was decided that the university will take every step necessary to separate ORU and the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association as a legal, financial, accounting and governance matter,” said George Pearsons, the regents’ chairman.

“However, the spiritual connection between the two organizations will remain.”

Yet unless significant leadership changes occur, the connections between the university and the ministries are likely to extend far beyond the spiritual realm.

An examination of recent tax returns filed by the two institutions shows that their boards are intertwined. All eight trustees listed on the ministries board (as of the 2005 tax return) sit on the university’s board. The university’s most recent tax filing, for 2006, listed 38 regents.

Lindsay Roberts, Richard Roberts’s wife, is executive VP of the ministries and was a regent until stepping down a month ago.

Richard Roberts continues to serve as CEO of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association. His father, evangelist Oral Roberts, founder of both organizations, is university chancellor.

Three of the sitting regents - Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar - are being investigated by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for possible financial misconduct in their own ministries. Sen. Chuck Grassley said he wants to learn whether their organizations are using tax-exempt status to provide them with lavish lifestyles.

Richard Roberts had taken a leave of absence as university president after three former professors filed a lawsuit accusing him of using university funds for personal expenses such as a $39,000 shopping trip for his wife and a stable of horses for their children.

Roberts submitted his resignation on Nov. 23, and the college trustees accepted it yesterday.

The university has revealed that it is more than $50 million in debt. Mart Green, whose family owns a chain of Christian and hobby stores, today pledged a gift of $70 million if the college could correct its governance problems.

Green said he would immediately give $8 million to the university, with the rest to come after a financial review that would have to be approved by his family. The Greens are requesting at least two seats on the board of regents.

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  • #1.   CH 11.28.2007

    Very confusing Muckety article and map.
    Some of the answers on the map are wrong.

  • #2.   Laurie Bennett 11.28.2007

    CH - Please let us know about any needed corrections to the story and/or map. Our data comes from the most recent available tax filings. There is a link to a list of current regents on the university web site, but it’s password protected! So we’ve used the public documents available to us.

  • #3.   Jorge Greene 12.04.2007

    I wonder if this mystery millionaire is somehow connected to the Unification Church. For details on why I ask this go to Google and search with the following four words together:
    liberty university rescue moon
    Sounds like a very similar situation.

  • #4.   Jerry Weinzierl 04.16.2009

    We are praying for this ministry and school - it was founded by a great man and with a great vision.

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