Embattled Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts says he received a prophecy six months ago that troubles were looming.
That prophecy came from an out-of-state minister who predicted a “major storm” that Roberts would be able to weather and that when Roberts entered his 60th year, “you’ll step to a new level of ministry you’ve never known,” Roberts told the Tulsa World.
Roberts turned 59 on Monday, six weeks after three former ORU professors sued, claiming wrongful termination and alleging the misuse of university and ministry money by members of the Roberts family.
After the lawsuit was filed, Roberts, who since 1993 has been the president of the university named for his father, took a leave of absence. Meanwhile, the university’s board of regents and independent auditors are investigating the allegations.
Roberts has continued working as the chairman and chief executive officer of Oral Roberts Ministries.
Roberts said it is difficult for him to imagine the university not having a Roberts in a leadership role, and that right now, “I’m the face; I’m the voice” of the school.
He said the university’s president should be someone “deeply immersed” in the evangelistic and healing ministry that led to the school’s creation. Roberts said a fear of both him and his father is that the school will be taken over by “the money people.” He said they think that would be a step toward ORU becoming a secular school.
He said his daughters Jordan, 22; Olivia, 20; and Chloe, 18 already are integral parts of the ministry, although he said he doesn’t want “to push any family member into any role. I have no idea if the call of God is on anyone in my family after me.”
Roberts expressed disappointment in the actions of university Provost Mark Lewandowski, who said last week he would resign if Roberts returned as president, because he could not “in good conscience serve under his leadership.”
In a letter to regents, Lewandowski described a “culture of fear” that Roberts has promoted and said Roberts hasn’t dealt with the university’s increasing debt. Lewandowski wants university professors to govern ORU and run the school.
University faculty members last week voted “no confidence” in Roberts as president.
Roberts called Lewandowski’s actions “a power play.”
“I am saddened to see that he wants to be president of the university himself,” Roberts said.
Lewandowski declined to respond to that assertion.
Roberts said if he remains as president, he wanted to have an open dialogue with faculty members every two weeks.
“I do believe if I’m given a second chance, I’ll have an opportunity to do a lot better job and have not only a better relationship with the tenured faculty but with all faculty,” he said.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com
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