John MacArthur to Step Down as Master's University President; Transition Announced

Pastor John MacArthur announced during the Shepherd's Conference held earlier this month that next year's conference will include a summit on biblical inerrancy. Photo taken March 7, 2014.
Pastor John MacArthur announced during the Shepherd's Conference held earlier this month that next year's conference will include a summit on biblical inerrancy. Photo taken March 7, 2014. | (Photo: Grace Community Church)

Pastor and author John MacArthur has announced that he will no longer serve as president of The Master's University in California come May 2020.

In a statement released by the school on Monday, MacArthur explained that "the time has come" for him to transition out of the university's presidency as the growth of the Santa Clarita-based institution demands "more leadership now and in the future."

The 79-year-old MacArthur, who also pastors Grace Community Church of Sun Valley and also has a syndicated radio program, has been president of the university since 1985.

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He will transition out the role of university president over the next 18 months to allow the institution to find a new president. He will assume the role of university chancellor and will maintain his role as president of the institution's seminary.

"For 33 years, since 1985, I have had the rare and enriching privilege of serving The Master's University and Seminary as president," MacArthur said in a statement. "I originally signed up for five years, thinking I would be able — along with my pastoral ministry at Grace Community Church — to help strengthen the university and seminary. I underestimated the hold that educating young Christians for Gospel influence on the world would have on me."

MacArthur said that he found it "impossible" to let go of the opportunity to educate young minds.

"I rejoice in the 91-year impact of this institution, because of its faithfulness to the Bible, to the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and His beloved Church," MacArthur added. "I am confident of the continuing influence of these schools for the Kingdom of our Lord and I look forward to continuing to serve The Master's University and Seminary in the years ahead."

The decision was officially announced Friday in a press release explaining that the "board of directors determined that over the coming months, The Master's University and Seminary will enter a period of transition."

"During this transition period, the future relationship of the two schools [university and seminary] will be clearly identified," the statement reads. "Moving into the future, TMU and TMS remain firmly committed to the authority of Scripture, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the mission of training men and women for Kingdom work."

The statement praised MacArthur's leadership and explained that there will be staff meetings at both the university and seminary to answer questions about the transition.

The Christian Post reached out to The Master's University for comment about why the decision was made. A response is pending.

The decision comes after the university was put on probation earlier this year by the region's leading educational accrediting agencies, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges' Senior College and University Commission.

Under the terms of the probation, the university will have two years to remedy its concerns while it maintains accreditation.

The school was placed on probation due to several concerns about the school's personnel and management practices including lack of qualification for staff members in university leadership positions, questionable level of independence between the TMU board of trustees, operational integrity and a "climate of fear, intimidation, bullying" among faculty and staff.

The commission expressed concern about the board's independence on grounds that "many members of the board are employed by the institution or another organization for which the president has authority." However, a university spokesperson assured The Christian Post that no board members are employed by MacArthur's Grace Community Church.

The commission also referenced internal auditors comments about a contract the university held that benefited MacArthur's son-in-law, Kory Welch. The auditor's concerns were over the need for competitive bidding. That competitive bidding has since taken place by a third party, the spokesperson said.

Last month, a report emerged with more detail of the alleged contract, stating that Welch's graphic design company, WeKreative, had been awarded an annual contract that paid $180,000 in 2016. KHTS reports that Welch was also a paid "consultant" for the school.

Financial statements released by the university show that a "businesses owned by a family member of management for marketing, public relations and video production services" was awarded $392,900 and $137,071 in 2016 and 2017.

University representatives who spoke with KHTS would not detail how much Welch received in compensation. In a statement, the university explained that WeKreative was paid $180,000 annually for 1,200 hours of work.

"The company, in fact, has documentation to show they provided more than 3,000 billable hours of work for TMU," Brian Harr, TMU director of communications, wrote in the statement. "The school was not billed for the extra 1,800 hours.

Welch has claimed that the majority of people who work for WeKreative are TMU alumni. Harr wrote that Welch "doesn't pocket that money but has overhead and employees that need to be paid."

"The team of designers at WeKreative is responsible for every piece of design for the university including all printed material, digital design, email templates, athletic gear, bookstore merchandise and was responsible for the complete rebranding of every document used by the school," the statement reads. "The company also does work for The Master's Seminary as needed."

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