Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lawsuit Asserts Nepotistic Corruption at Oral Roberts U

Three recently dismissed professors from Oral Roberts University have filed suit against ORU and four of its administrators. Alleging wrongful dismissal, they claim that their firings were prompted by their turning over a report of misuse of funds by the Richard Roberts family.

This the first chapter in what will probably be a long story. But that doesn't stop us from offering our SWNIDish observations:
  • ORU is not the only Christian organization to practice nepotism. In fact, it's tough to find a Christian organization that hasn't done some dynastic hiring.
  • Nepotism is not always bad. SWNID highly esteems his professorial colleagues who are the seed of his own esteemed professors. The case has been made that there is an inherent wisdom in hiring from the family.
  • Too many Christian organizations are so closely identified with a single individual that they invite corruption. We have a friend, whom we won't name, who once attended a college, which we won't name, and later returned there as a faculty member. He later told us that within six months of his hiring, he recognized that the organization had become so much a cult to protect and enhance the public image of the personality who founded and ran the college, he would either have to leave, become utterly cynical, or "drink the Kool-Aid." He left and is very happy teaching elsewhere. He is not alone.
  • The credibility of the claims of the plaintiffs is presently for SWNID enhanced by the facts that (a) they seek very limited cash damages; (b) their accounts sound sufficiently detailed and coherent to suggest that they are based on fair recollection of facts. Still, we defer to the legal process to sort all this out.

So at this point, here's our word of caution. Let's all knock off the identification of certain individuals as especially gifted--or worse, "anointed" (only one "Anointed One" is really needed, yes?)--to be the near dictatorial heads of Christian organization. SWNID, being a little executive, understands the importance of executive leadership. But SWNID, being a Christian, understands the weaknesses of sinful human beings.

ORU was founded around the personality of one Oral Roberts (side note: never name anything after a person who is still alive, lest that person permanently embarrass you, cf. "Pete Rose Way"). Said personality was, to say the least, a problematic public figure. Somehow, influence at ORU passed from the Reverend Mr. Roberts to his offspring. They now seem to play the role of Eli's sons.

When organizations with the personality cults nepotize their second generation, they create the potential for all something really awful.

1 comment:

rustypants said...

if folks had just ponied up the $8,000,000 God told him he needed, his credibility would have been bolstered and his character redeemed. as it was, getting a couple mil from a dog track owner... well, it was the beginning of the end.

haha - or was it the end of the end?