ORU Clears Off Over $50M in Debt; Paves Way for New President

Oral Roberts University has resolved all of its long-term debt, according to an announcement Wednesday, just two days before the historically charismatic school inaugurates its third president.

Around this time two years ago, ORU was more than $50 million in debt and two months away from witnessing its second president, Richard Roberts, resign over allegations of misconduct and financial misspending.

"We are extremely thankful to all the donors who stepped up to support ORU," said Mart Green, chair of the ORU Board of Trustees, in Wednesday's announcement. "ORU's long-term debt was a major dragon to slay for future success. We can now move forward with confidence and continue to make this university the best it can be."

Since the resignation of ORU's former president in November 2007, the Tulsa, Okla.-based school has been working hard to recover from the scandal and its debt, making very large leaps and bounds along the way.

Last year, about half of a single $62 million donation given to ORU went toward eliminating the university's debt while $32 million was allocated toward "campus renovations, technology upgrades, academic enhancement, financial aid for new and returning students, marketing and operations."

And from February 2008 to April 2009, more than 15,000 individuals donated over $22 million to the university as part of "Renewing the Vision," a $25 million matching campaign that channeled donations into ORU projects such as "establishing endowed scholarships, attracting and retaining quality faculty and staff, academic program upgrades, other campus improvements, and more."

Though none of the donations went toward ORU's debt, for every dollar donated through the campaign, the ORU board of trustees promised to give a dollar toward the remaining debt - a promise that was not only kept but outdone.

To honor the efforts of all of the donors, the trustees gave beyond the match to a total of $24,280,001. This brought long-term debt down to $719,999. The remaining balance was resolved through additional contributions.

"I want to thank all of the generous donors who have brought us to where we are today," stated ORU President-Elect Dr. Mark Rutland, who will be inaugurated Friday.

"I want to thank each one of them for believing in this university enough to financially support this great institution. And we are extremely grateful to Mart Green and the Board of Trustees for their leadership and financial support. They have a desire to see this university fulfill its vision and have backed that up with their generous gifts," he added.

Founded in 1963 by evangelist Oral Roberts, ORU currently serves students from 49 states and 56 countries, representing 40 denominations.

The interdenominational Christian liberal arts university plans to inaugurate its third president during a two-hour event Friday at its Mabee Center, starting at 1 p.m.

The inauguration will be viewable live on the school's website, www.oru.edu, and followable live via Twitter (@OralRobertsU).