TULSA — When the door closed on Richard Roberts’ tenure at Oral Roberts University, a door may have opened leading to salvation for the battered university.
After weeks of bad news, the ORU community rejoiced Tuesday after Oklahoma City businessman Mart Green pledged to donate $70 million of his family’s fortune to ORU. Green said it was Roberts’ resignation Friday that showed him the university was committed to fixing its problems and starting anew.
“ORU must restore its broken trust, its battered reputation and its beaten spirit. Now begins a time of healing,” said Green, whose family has no immediate ties to ORU but has supported religious universities in the past.
The $70 million would eliminate the university’s $52 million debt.
Green made it clear the donation would be for the university, not the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association. ORU Board of Regents Chairman George Pearsons said regents decided during an annual meeting this week to separate the university and the evangelistic association. Such a move had been publicly opposed recently by Chancellor Oral Roberts.
But Pearsons said Oral Roberts’ stance has since changed and that the school’s 89-year-old founder wants whatever it takes to make the university succeed.
“The board and Oral have agreed that significant changes need to take place,” Green said.
Who are the Greens?
Green’s family founded the successful Hobby Lobby and Mardel retail chains.
“We are passionate about spreading the good news of Christ, and know we will succeed in doing God’s will for this university,” Green said.