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Ex-President Roberts Separates Completely (Almost) from ORU

With a promised $70 million gift being dangled in front of them, ORU Regents plan to disentangle themselves from the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.

On Monday this blog asked, "Will Richard Roberts Let Go or ORU?" Concerns had surfaced in both the Oklahoman newspaper and in the Chronicle of Higher Education that because Roberts had remained president and CEO of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, he would still be able to misuse funds at Oral Roberts University.

I spent a few minutes studying the IRS Form 990s of both ORU and the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association. The overlap between the boards of the two organizations is so huge that the evangelistic association was obliged to report that these organizations were under "Common Control."

Well, no longer. This morning the Associated Press, the Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World are reporting the promise of a major gift to ORU from Mart Green (founder of the retail chains Mardel and Hobby Lobby). He's offering $70 million to help the school out of its financial pit.

But there are conditions, and from the timing of the gift, it seems that one of them is for the school and the evangelistic association to cut their ties. According to the university's regents, they plan to disentangle the two organizations. Patriarch Oral Roberts has long opposed separating the two, according to the Oklahoman, but has apparently had a sudden change of heart.

The Green family made an initial $8 million gift on Monday, with the balance to be given over the next three months as the university shows progress in reforming its governance and its financial management and in dealing with pending lawsuits. To keep the reforms going, the Green family will likely get two seats on the ORU board of regents, says the Tulsa World.

Meanwhile, the regents' chairman has announced that Roberts will be allowed to remain in the ORU presidential palace–temporarily.

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