A MOMENT…

December 15, 2009

Oral Roberts, Evangelist

Oral Roberts died today in Newport Beach, California.  Thanks to Erin Amos for letting me know.

The following news outlets have the story:

According to this TulsaWorld article, he took a fall on Saturday and suffered some broken bones.

I’m deeply moved and still experiencing gratitude for the education I received at ORU.  More thoughts will follow later.

UPDATE:  The thoughts I have are echoed by fellow alum, Sarah, over at Emerging Mummy.  Key quote:

“I loved Oral’s bigness. There was nothing small about the man. He was huge – even his ears were enormous.”

I like that Sarah also says, “His faith was enormous.”  It’s so true.  My mother and I were talking about him yesterday.  The legacy that my mother and I discussed was Oral’s courage.  And Sarah mentions how his final years were spent telling us all to be obedient.  Let’s put it together.

Be courageously obedient to God.

That’s a good treasure to leave behind.


ORU: PASTOR BILLY JOE

November 21, 2009

ORIGINAL POST (2009-11-21):

You may have heard this already, but in case you haven’t…

Pastor Billy Joe, of Victory Christian Center, was diagnosed with lymphoma last month and is currently in the hospital being treated for complications resulting from an infection, according to articles by KJRH and News9.

UPDATE (2009-11-23):

Yesterday at 4:40 am, Pastor Billy Joe ‘graduated to heaven’ according to this NewsOK article and this excellent Tulsa World article.  He was 57.  A memorial service is being planned for November 30th.

I remember visiting VCC when I was 11 years old and also during my time at ORU.  I remember that he seemed like a sweet, kind, and well-respected leader.  I know that he will be missed by many.


ORU LAWSUIT: ECFA ACCREDITATION!

May 6, 2009

I missed posting this in March.  So sorry!

Apparently, ORU has recieved their Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) accreditation!  Those following the news about the lawsuit since 2007 will know that this was a huge part of the problem at the time – that ORU had a history and a reputation for being massively non-transparent.  That ORU has recieved this accreditation, is a huge sign that things are certainly changing for the better under Mart’s leadership.

Thanks to the kids at SaveORU.com for the heads up!


ORU LAWSUIT: DEBT ALMOST PAID OFF!

April 29, 2009

According to this NewsOK article, the debt that ORU carried for many years is close to being eradicated.

Check out the Renew the Vision donation page here.  It’s fun to watch the bars go from right to left and vice versa.

Good news!


DC – THE FIRST FEW DAYS IN TULSA

February 5, 2009

Ryan and I spent most of the Fall of 2008 working on the feature film called “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreams of Duncan Christopher” in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  While I was there, I didn’t have much time to write.  So I’m going to spend a few blog posts now talking about my experiences in Tulsa.   Here’s the first of many!

I went out for pre-production in early October.  I stayed with our good friend and business partner Justin Monroe and his wife Kasey.  They were so gracious to give me the spare bedroom with a desk!  I was spoiled to be able to work late into the night and roll back out of bed early in the morning and keep working.  Perhaps that was some strategery on Justin’s part?  Nah…

The night I got there, Heather Roberts came over with coconut ice cream (made with coconut milk, not cow’s milk) and a back massage for me.  Thank you Heather!

I had been back a few days before I finally made it down to ORU for a visit.  I was nervous.  I didn’t know how I’d feel.  After having felt like I was escaping, seven years previous (having finished my last semester), and after all that’d gone on at ORU in the previous year (see this post), I was more than a little anxious to get the first visit over with.

Heather Roberts (who plays Angeline in the film) had told me on my first night back that when I went by ORU, I should just crack the doors of Howard “How Weird” Auditorium and breath in the air.  Memories, she said, would come flooding back.

As I walked toward Howard Aud., I felt that excitement that comes when visiting an old haunt.  So much of my life was lived within those curved walls.  So much of my artistic development and maturation…  So much of my pride and fear was cultivated and crushed…  The doors were chained.  So I did as Heather instructed and cracked them just a little.  And I breathed in the air that escaped.

It’s an unmistakeable smell.

I remembered auditioning in the lobby, playing sardines in the girl’s bathroom, running sound in the upstairs booth, designing makeup in the dressing rooms, sewing hundreds of yards of costumes in the costume shop, dancing across the stage, striding barefoot through the scene shop, tromping around in the orchestra pit…  tears, laughter, nervousness, eureka moments!  My memory was flooded with images.  Four years of my life flashed before my eyes.

And then I closed the door.  And paused.

As I slowly walked the rest of the campus, bathed in memories, I tried to put my finger on the emotion I felt.  I called my parents and talked it over with them as I relived discovering the campus anew.  Finally, it came to me.

Gratitude.  I felt gratitude!  I felt grateful for my education.  It came as a shock.  But it was honest-to-goodness gratitude.

Back at Justin’s I didn’t have long to dwell on my experience as I had a monumental task at hand.  It was a full six weeks before I would be able to return to ORU for a real visit with one of my favourite profs.  In the meantime, I produced a feature film.  More on that next time…


ORU LAWSUIT: MAKING IT OFFICIAL

November 14, 2008

I don’t have time to find a ton of links.  So here’s Phil Cooke’s post about it.


ORU LAWSUIT: SETTLED!

October 22, 2008

As prevously blogged, today ORU and the two professors Tim and Paulita Brooker had a mediation conference scheduled for today.  The result?  They have settled with the university, according to the TulsaWorld, NewsOK.com, and another TulsaWorld.  Wow.


ORU LAWSUIT: SETTLED?

October 9, 2008

Shannon Muchmore of the TulsaWorld writes about the potential mediation conference set for October 22.  According to anonymous sources, Tim and Paulita Brooker, former ORU professors who sued the university more than a year ago, will discuss possible settlement terms at this conference.

I’m not yet sure what to think.  Part of me would be glad to see things settle down; but part of me would be rather dissapointed for the truth not to have a chance to see the light and for the drama not to play out in court – probably because I’m a storyteller and I like conflict.  Almost like I crave organized anarchy.  It’s interesting.  Not to mention contradictory.  Digressing…

I, like many alumni, feel that Richard Roberts’ simple action of stepping down from leadership of the university and Mart Green’s generous “golden shovel” donation (to dig ORU out of its financial hole) were simply not enough.  Much of my generation’s issue with the ORU administration during our terms there was about the complete and total lack of disclosure!  It, among other actions (or lack thereof) generated, or contributed to, the culture of fear that we perceived as students.  Big things happened… and they weren’t addressed.  We were treated like sheep, not clients.  We were treated like carbon-copy Christian sausages instead of the thinking, intelligent, ready-to-tackle-the-world, whole men and women they purported to be turning out.  Our problem lay in the fact that we were not addressed as coherent adults.  On most important matters regarding the administration of the university, we simply were not addressed.

And so it continues.  No word has been given from the current administration about the discoveries of the internal audit.  Yes, it’s internal; but whether negative or positive, it’s findings are relevant to ORU’s stakeholders.

I believe that hundreds, perhaps even thousands of potential donors wait in the wings, patient that ORU will someday straighten up and fly right and begin to communicate with clarity, maturity and professionalism when matters regarding the leadership or administration require disclosure.  When that happens, when ORU’s leadership, past, present or future, can admit fault, can admit failure, can admit the need for help, then I think the giant golden beast can begin to move forward.  Maybe even go for a jog down Riverside with this guy.

So if this lawsuit gets settled out of court and the details swept under the Prayer Garden rug, I’ll be more than a little displeased and, quite honestly, ever still reluctant to send my potentially generous donations toward South Tulsa.  I still believe in the faculty of ORU; and its potential to churn out great Christian thinkers and artists and businessmen (as well as nurses); but it will take humility and honesty on the part of its leaders to generate hope within me that the modus operandi of the past has changed.  Until then, I think I might still be a little skeptical.


ORU LAWSUIT: INTERESTING SUMMARY

September 8, 2008

Christianity Today posted an interesting summary about the past year at ORU.  I recommend.

At the end, they link to Mart Green’s website.  It’s full of good little tidbits about the man who is forging a bold new path in evangelical documentary-makingMiss HIV.

I think it’s exciting that the new Chair of the Board of Trustees is involved in creating cultural offerings like this one!


ORU LAWSUIT: WHO’S WHO?

September 1, 2008

In case you’re starting to get everyone confused (there’s lots of names!), the Lavender Liberals have put together a comprehensive outline of the Brooker’s witness list plus other key people connected to ORU.  They’re full of opinions, but it’s a good list.

UPDATE: Just a note, not every name tagged here or included in the Lavender Liberals’ list is named on the Brooker’s witness list or list of defendants.  This is a list of key people related to ORU or the lawsuit, which includes names of defendants and names on the witness list.


ORU LAWSUIT: AFFIDAVIT AND SHADY

September 1, 2008

A new source has stepped forward, adding strength to Huddleston’s case, according to Muchmore and the TulsaWorld.  Key quotes:

Donations to the Oral Roberts Ministry were deposited into an unmarked, miscellaneous account and various other ORU accounts, despite their earmarks, according to the affidavit of a former ministry employee and ORU student.

Vanessa Patrick alleges in the affidavit that she once handled a $500 donation meant for a student who could not otherwise afford to go to ORU but which was instead deposited into a miscellaneous account.

When she went to supervisors to report the irregularities, she was intimidated and told, “This is the way things work. If you don’t like the way it works, then you can leave,” according to the affidavit.

Patrick has [since] resigned and left the ministry and the university.

In all honesty, this happened to me once as well.  I sent in a moderate donation to be used for one department and got a thank you card from another department.  As appreciative as I was to get the thank you card, I was still a little upset that my donation hadn’t gone to the department for which it’d been intended.  I certainly hope that, under new leadership, donations will be routed appropriately.

In other news, ORU Slim Shady* has a new track out.  Enjoy!

* You had to be at or around ORU in 1999(?) to know about ORU Slim Shady.

ORU LAWSUIT: HUDDLESTON HEARING HELD UP

August 29, 2008

According to my new favourite last name, one of ORU’s lawyers was sick this morning, and the hearing was postponed.  Two key quotes:

A new date has not been set for Trent Huddleston’s the case against ORU and its leaders, originally filed in November.

And, regarding enrollment:

ORU announced preliminary fall enrollment figures Friday, showing a decline of about 3 percent, or less than 100 students, from this time last year. The university hosts about 3,000 students.


ORU LAWSUIT: THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS

August 28, 2008

Here’s a few random links:

  1. A poorly shot, yet still interesting, video from “Media Day.”  Stay tuned afterward to learn about bird diets.  J/K.  It’s a link from this article in The Oklahoman.
  2. There’s room for 800 more students, according to K. Flasch.
  3. Muchmore quotes from ORU leaders about the new school year in her TulsaWorld article.  Key quote:

Fagin told listeners at the chapel Friday that the university plans to have a new president in place by next summer. A search committee, with the help of a consultant, has received 100 applications and is narrowing the list. The final candidates will visit the campus, and the trustees will decide who is offered the job.

“A word of warning to whoever he or she may be: You better hit the ground running,” Fagin said. “We’re not in maintenance mode. This place is moving on all fronts.”

Seems like things are moving forward positively for ORU.


ORU LAWSUIT: DEBT & RENOS

August 16, 2008

Good things are happening at ORU these days. It’s good to share something happy. 🙂

The dept has been reduced to only $19 million and a huge number of renovations to the dorms have been completed, according to ORU grad and good friend, Krista Flasch, reporting for KJRH. Key quotes:

ORU spent more than $10 million in campus-wide renovations, from simple changes like landscaping to upgrading electrical systems.

Roommates Twyla Reimer and Sarah Dugan discovered some pleasant surprises. “We’ve got all these new renovations, including the micro-fridges. And new carpet, a new shower, which is incredibe,” said Reimer. “And they’re really nice,” said Dugan.

Tulsa World had Justin J’s take on it as well.


ORU LAWSUIT: SEVERANCE PACKAGE?

August 13, 2008

Richard Roberts is getting a severance package.

This Associated Press article by Justin Juozapavicius quotes former ORU regent Harry McNevin:

“It sends the message that it’s more about money than winning souls.”

I’m not sure what kind of message it sends; because, frankly, I’m just not sure what is typical under these circumstances.  But then again, these aren’t typical circumstances.

Should a resigning university president get a severance package?  Probably.  Should a university president, resigning amidst a cloud of litigation, get a severance package?  Idunno.

Robert’s lawyer, Frank M Hagedorn, implies that Richard may have been promised one.


ORU LAWSUIT: WHO IS JIM INHOFE?

August 7, 2008

Wikipedia has an article on this Republican Senator from Oklahoma.

He’s taken some flack over the years for his scandalous statements and actions.

He was the mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma for a few years in the late 70s and early 80s.

And now, some suspect that he may be connected to the legal issues at ORU, according to blue oklahoma and the Oologah Lake Leader.


ORU LAWSUIT: TRENT & THE AMAZING INVISABLE AUDIT

July 26, 2008

This is juicy.

TRENT HUDDLESTON’S LAWSUIT

Back in November, NewsOk reported that Trent Huddleston filed a lawsuit (available here in PDF) against ORU claiming that:

…he was ordered to falsely report thousands of dollars of assets as expenses, which allowed the Robertses (sic) to spend university money on their extravagant lifestyle without agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service realizing how the money was being spent. … [and that] he was forced out of his position because he refused to remain silent about “the fact the defendants were committing illegal acts.”

Key quote from the article:

On the day Huddleston was forced out, an audit initiated by ORU’s regents was set to begin.

THE AUDIT

So about that audit… Read the rest of this entry »


ORU LAWSUIT: 50 NAMES AND COUNTING

July 25, 2008

ORU has received at least fifty nominations or letters of interest for the position of president, according to this TulsaWorld article. Bruce Dingman of The Dingman Company is conducting the search. They have a list of qualifications posted here.

Key quote from the Dingman listing:

The opportunity is one where a style of servant leadership (humility, authenticity, and accountability), shared governance (a participative, inclusive management style) and a new board, will build a spirit of trust, mutual respect and community among the board, administration, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and supporters. This is a time for healing, rebuilding, re-energizing, and recasting of the vision with all the constituencies.

The president should be a person who will foster an environment of open communication and academic freedom, and dispel the climate of fear that has developed among the faculty and staff.

Key quote from the TulsaWorld article:

Roberts was accused last fall of creating a “culture of fear” on campus; he said he did not intend to create such a culture, if such a culture existed.

And finally:

If everything goes as planned the new President will likely assume the position around July 1st, 2009 and the official inauguration will occur in the fall of 2009.


ORU LAWSUIT: Lawsuit to be Amended

June 18, 2008

According to this Tulsa World page of briefs, the lawsuit from student Cornell Cross, that he filed in November, has been dismissed by a Tulsa county judge today.  Here’s some quotes:

ORU and other defendants argued that Cross essentially was alleging educational malpractice, which cannot be the basis for a lawsuit under Oklahoma law, defense attorney John Tucker said.

…one of Cross’ attorneys said he plans to file a new version of the lawsuit with more details about the allegations.  Cross has until early July to amend his lawsuit.

Cornell graduated from ORU last month with a bachelor’s degree.  Among other things, Cornell was arguing that his degree has been devalued by the events at ORU last fall.

What do readers of this blog think?

Does a student’s degree become devalued by events such as these?  Take the events at Texas Southern University.  Priscilla Slade, the ex-president, and three aids, were charged with misusing university funds.  Slade was accused of spending more than $500,000 of the financially strapped school’s money on personal expenses, such as furnishing and landscaping her home.  Does that mean that the education acquired by students from Texas Southern University during her tenure is less valuable because she misused their money?

Here’s an update on Slade from this Houston Chronicle story:

Slade, after her first trial ended with a hung jury, pleaded no contest to the charges and promised to repay $130,000 to avoid jail time. Prosecutors also required her to read a letter of apology in court.


BLOG READABILITY? NAH…

June 12, 2008

So Barb over at Church of the Masses checked her blog’s readability level with this Blog Readability Test from CriticsRant. Aparently her blog’s reading level is Junior High School. I won’t tell you what this blog’s reading level is… you can check for yourself if you’re curious. But what I thought was interesting was this:

If you can tell me what really wrong with this picture, you’ve been living with “the internets” for far too long.

Read the rest of this entry »