ORU board reborn in new bylaws

The power of “spiritual regents” and ultimate leadership by the founder and his family are gone in Oral Roberts University‘s revised articles of incorporation and bylaws.

The new documents usher in shared governance — with defined roles for the board, the president and the faculty — required by the Green family, which has donated $70 million to ORU.

The revised bylaws give ORU’s new governing board the ultimate authority over the college and state that the president serves at the pleasure of the board.

Previously, the president essentially had power over the board, board of trustees Chairman Mart Green said last week.

When the university first accepted students in 1965, founder Oral Roberts served as the president, and his son Richard Roberts succeeded him in 1993. Richard Roberts resigned in November, following a lawsuit, a storm of publicity and allegations he mismanaged the university and misused its money.


He denied wrongdoing.

Both men, along with their wives, were ORU’s spiritual regents, who had ultimate authority within ORU’s old board of regents, according to the old bylaws. They were considered ORU’s “spiritual prophets, seers, pastors, leaders and ministers.” Teachings of the chairman and vice chairman of the spiritual regents “represent(ed) the teachings” of Jesus as applied to modern times “and must be followed” by leaders and staff. ORU “is essentially and fundamentally a religious organization,” the old bylaws stated.

The Green family described ORU’s old articles of incorporation and bylaws as inadequate and obsolete in its plan for the university, which the old board of regents accepted this month.

The new articles of incorporation provide a way to change the name and purpose of the university: by a unanimous vote of the full board three years in a row at its annual meeting. ORU’s stated purpose, the same as it was described in the 1991 version of ORU’s articles of incorporation, includes education of the “whole person,” including mind, spirit and body.


The revised bylaws define the responsibilities of four groups:


Board: Trustees will serve three-year terms, with about a third of the trustees’ terms expiring each year. The board will make sure ORU sticks to its mission; elect a president by two-thirds of the trustees at the meeting; approve of ORU’s budget, tuition, investments, any loans, construction, renovations and the purchase, sale and management of land, buildings and major equipment; and participate in fundraising.

The board will decide the president’s compensation and length and conditions of employment. These duties are similar to those of other university boards in Oklahoma.

President: The president will be the university’s CEO, a nonvoting board member and the board’s chief adviser, responsible for “all university educational and managerial affairs.” The president will be in charge of leading the university, hiring administrators in consultation with the board and implementing board policies, and will be “responsible for the effective direction and organization of the faculty” and other ORU employees.

Faculty: The faculty will include the president and will be responsible for directing the educational program, including “admission requirements, curricula, instruction, schedules and degree requirements.”

Students: Students who “desire to undertake serious academic study” and “show promise” of academic success may enroll at ORU.

The bylaws also state that the chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer of the board, and one or more vice presidents will be elected annually by the board.

The revised bylaws call for a smaller board — now up to 22 members instead of 44 — and require participation and attendance at meetings. Under the old articles of incorporation, a third of business regents constituted a quorum, whereas a majority of trustees now makes up a quorum.

Regents could be removed from the board only for “moral turpitude, fraud, apostasy or the like,” but trustees can be removed with or without cause by a two-thirds vote of the whole board.

A conflict of interest policy adopted Thursday calls for “arm’s length bargaining” and “reasonable investment or payments for goods and services.”

The board of trustees created the nonvoting board of reference to replace the old board of regents. The board of reference exists “to provide for effective communication and informative exchange and service among the public, this university’s stakeholders and the university,” according to ORU’s revised bylaws.

The board of reference has 44 members, including about a half-dozen former regents. ORU had about 40 business and associate regents and regents emeriti this school year. Longtime regents Chairwoman Marilyn Hickey made the switch, as did Billy Joe Daugherty, pastor of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa. The board also includes former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts and David Green, founder of the Hobby Lobby chain and a member of ORU’s donor family.

View PDFs of ORU’s revised articles of incorporation and bylaws, and catch up on previous articles and documents.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Tulsa World, USA
Feb. 3, 2008
April Marciszweksi
www.tulsaworld.com

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This post was last updated: Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 4:36 PM, Central European Time (CET)