November 18, 2008
Oral Roberts U. to Cut 100 Jobs
Spokesman says the cuts are mainly to offset the school's $17 million deficit.
Just days after Oral Roberts University announced that it will give former president Richard Roberts more than $440,000 in severance pay, the Tulsa school said it will be eliminating 100 jobs, about 10% of its workforce, in January 2009.
"Like any business, a university cannot spend more revenue than it collects," wrote board chair Mart Green and interim president Ralph Fagin in a letter to the ORU family. "We have a responsibility to all of you to be good stewards of our resources."
School officials have not decided which jobs to cut, but say former employees will remain on the payroll for 60 days and be given job placement support. ORU currently has more than 950 employees.
Last Friday, November 14, ORU announced it had officially severed ties with Roberts and will pay him $223,600 a year for the remainder of a three-term appointment that ends November 2009. The Roberts family moved off campus earlier this year but continues to work at the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, which has been separated from the school.
The last year has brought the school several economic burdens, including a $55 million debt after Roberts's resignation last November, a lawsuit from two former professors, settled in October for an undisclosed amount, and several long-needed maintenance projects on campus, funded mainly by Hobby Lobby heir Green's $70 million gift. The school remains $17 million in debt.
While the larger U.S. economic downturn is certainly a factor in ORU's decision to cut jobs, school spokesman Jeremy Burton told CT that the decision was mainly about paying off that debt.
"One of our issues is deficit. . . . You can't spend more than you take in," Burton said. "We are doing this in light of everything that's going on economically. That affects everything across the board. But that is not the main reason."
See Christianity Today's prior coverage of ORU:
"Healing ORU" | $70 million and Mart Green's business acumen are repairing a scandal-scarred school. (Sept. 2008)
"Tulsa Dustup" | Lawsuit charges ORU president and his wife with fiscal, moral improprieties. (Dec. 2007)