Poll: Majority of Faculty Want Oral Roberts University President Gone

TULSA Okla.

More than 80 percent of the faculty at Oral Roberts University do not want Richard Roberts to continue as president of the evangelical school, a new survey shows.

The 118-12 “no” vote was part of a larger, eight-question survey conducted twice during Monday’s faculty assembly and obtained by The Associated Press. It included vote tallies for each question and the percentage of faculty members voting each way.

The survey comes a week after tenured faculty voted “no confidence” in Roberts as president, regardless of the outcome of a lawsuit against ORU that accuses him of improper spending.

Roberts has been on temporary leave while an investigation into the school’s finances continues.

Accusations of lavish spending were detailed in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed Oct. 2 by three former ORU professors.

Nearly 90 percent of the faculty thought the school’s current procedures for financial disclosure and accountability were inadequate and more than 74 percent of those polled did not believe that alumni would continue to support ORU if Richard Roberts remains as president, according to the survey.

Additionally, a majority of faculty members thought university administrators, such as the president, deans and department chairs, should be evaluated yearly by the faculty and that faculty should be involved in determining the selection criteria for, and selection of, the school’s president.

An ORU spokesman declined to comment on the results late Monday.

Two surveys were taken at the meeting. In the first “pre-survey,” nearly 78 percent of faculty members believed Richard Roberts should not continue as president and about 16 percent were undecided.

After the first survey, tenured faculty discussed the three motions they passed last week: the “no confidence” vote against Richard Roberts; a vote of “confidence” in Mark Lewandowski, the school’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, “with regard to his call for greater faculty governance and transparency of university finances” and the desire of the faculty to have a greater role on how university leadership is selected.

After the discussion, faculty were polled again.

The “post-survey” revealed that more than 80 percent of faculty members believed Roberts should not continue as president, while nearly 12 percent were still undecided.

“When it’s that overwhelming of a vote, when does Richard start thinking more about the needs of the university than his own needs?” said Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson, who is representing the three professors in their lawsuit against ORU. “What does the vote have to be?”

The lawsuit against Roberts includes allegations of a $39,000 shopping tab at one store for Richard Roberts’ wife, Lindsay; a $29,411 Bahamas senior trip on the university jet for one of Roberts’ daughters and a stable of horses for the Roberts children.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Richard and Lindsay Roberts denied wrongdoing. Richard Roberts has said the lawsuit amounted to “intimidation, blackmail and extortion.”

Last week, Lewandowski offered to resign in a letter to board of regents chairman George Pearsons, saying he cannot “in good conscience serve under (Roberts’) leadership,” and wants the board to vote on his offer at its Nov. 27 meeting.



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