The former president of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., officially stepped in Wednesday to take charge of Oral Roberts University, marking another new start for the historically charismatic institution.
Dr. Mark Rutland, who was elected in January following a 14-month search, marked his first official day Wednesday as ORU’s third president and the first without the Roberts name.
And unlike the previous president, Richard Roberts, Rutland will not be leading an institution more than $50 million in debt.
Following a highly-active clean-up campaign spurred by the resignation of its second president, ORU today finds itself with less than $700,000 in debt.
"I am incredibly excited about the debt being reduced by such a significant amount," said Mart Green, chair of the ORU Board of Trustees. "Debt is one of the dragons that ORU needed to slay to ensure economic sustainability, and we are almost there."
According to Green, the reduction of the school’s debt has been strengthening the new ORU and paving a “clear path” for it as the new president.
For the past nearly two years, the Tulsa, Okla.-based school has been working to recover from the financial scandal that stemmed from a lawsuit filed in October 2007 by former ORU professors who claimed they were forced out after uncovering financial and ethical wrongdoing by the school's former president and family.
Roberts, son of the school’s namesake founder, televangelist Oral Roberts, and his wife were accused of using university money for shopping sprees, home improvements and a stable of horses for their daughters at a time when ORU was more than $50 million in debt.
The suit was finally settled late October 2008 after a court-ordered mediation session, bringing to a close the scandal that engulfed the charismatic school.
Regarding the selection of ORU's new president, Green said he was excited and expressed confidence in Rutland’s ability to lead the school. “He brings great wisdom and experience to this role and will strengthen the university’s mission to provide an excellent, whole person education to our students," Green said.
At Southeastern University, Rutland is credited with engineering a turnaround after he became president in 1999. He also founded Global Servants, which has a church-planting ministry in West Africa and a large girls’ home in Thailand.
"Much prayer, time, and thought was put into the presidential search process and I am excited that Dr. Rutland was chosen as ORU’s third president,” commented Green.
According to ORU, Rutland will begin his service to ORU with many tasks on his agenda. With a new school year to begin in August, Rutland will be busy developing short-term and long-range plans for the university.
[By Eric Young, Christian Post Reporter]
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Now more than ever, we need to look toward new methods to get the unchurched into our churches. Some people will be reached through door-to-door methods. Others will not.
While more than half of Americans would listen cordially as a stranger at their door invited them to church, more than 60 percent of the unchurched might tune us out before the invitation left our mouths. Now, the cross is always a stumbling block, but we also want to be sure that our methods are less so.
The message of the gospel is too important to be spread through just one strategy—and if God leads you and your church to a certain strategy, you should use it. Door-to-door methods can be and are used to reach people. This method can still be an important part of our evangelism strategies, but our study shows that not everyone is open to such an approach. Let us ask God to show us additional ways to reach the unchurched—through relationships, service, ministry, and invitations to visit.
Remember, God wants to see the unchurched connected to a family of faith even more than we do.
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