ORU Presidential Search Committee Presents Top Pick

The committee behind Oral Roberts University's search for a new president has selected a candidate to recommend to the institution's Board of Trustees.

Dr. Mark Rutland, the candidate being considered for the top post at the university, is currently the president of Southeastern University in Florida and will attend board meetings the last week of January, according to an announcement Wednesday by ORU.

Southeastern University, which has been under the guidance of Rutland for ten years, also made an announcement Wednesday of the new position "God is leading him (Rutland) to."

"Southeastern University has experienced unprecedented growth over the past ten years with Dr. Rutland as the catalyst," said Southeastern University Chairman of the Board Charles Kelly in a statement. "We will be forever indebted to Dr. Rutland and appreciate all he has accomplished for the university far more than words can express. He will be greatly missed. However, the call of God is leading him to ORU, and we trust the same God to bring us the leader that will take Southeastern into the future."

For more than a year now, ORU has been looking for a new leader following the resignation of Richard Roberts, who served as president for over 14 years.

In October 2007, Roberts, the son of ORU founder Oral Roberts, and his wife were accused of using university money for shopping sprees, home improvements and a stable of horses for their daughters at a time when ORU was more than $50 million in debt. Both Roberts repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and Mr. Roberts said the lawsuit filed by three former ORU professors amounted to "intimidation, blackmail and extortion."

The lawsuit, which claimed the professors were forced out after uncovering financial and ethical wrongdoing by the school's former president and family, was finally settled late last October after a court-ordered mediation session.

The school's interim president, Ralph Fagin, said the school was pleased to have the matter behind it.

As for the next leader, the ORU Presidential Search Committee said it was looking for a man or woman who has had a "significant leadership position in a fairly large, complex organization" and who is a good speaker, "devoted Christian," planner, visionary, team-builder and good fundraiser, among many more qualifications.

The job description also calls for a president who would serve as a role model, "living a Spirit-filled life, practicing the prayer language."

Though ORU has in recent years attempted to rebrand itself as an interdenominational Christian liberal arts university, the spiritual practice of speaking in tongues is common and encouraged at the self-described charismatic university that is alma mater to respected Christian leaders including Ron Luce and Don Moen as well as embattled ministers such as Kenneth Copeland and Ted Haggard.

In the past, ORU has been criticized for endorsing unorthodox doctrines of faith, including the "Word of Faith" doctrine, which critics say has been used for self promotion and justification of economic materialism.