Oral Roberts University eliminated its entire Board of Regents last night declaring a new era of transparent governance and accountability for the financially troubled institution. The new Board of Trustees made up of educators and alumni is in sharp contrast to the old board which was dominated by high profile televangelists including Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Jerry Savelle, Jesse Duplantis and Kenneth Copeland. Copeland's son-in-law George Pearsons served as the former head of the Business Board of Regents. Within the last few weeks, Hinn, Duplantis and Dollar left the board citing demands of their ministries.
The change came about in response to a highly influential donor, Tulsa philanthropist Mart Green, who offered a financial rescue of $70 million to the ailing institution on the condition that the university accept sweeping changes.
Green tells CBS News that the idea was to move away from an organization dominated by the founder to one of "shared governance." He also required that the university become a member of the independent Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), "I think it's important that we can say we are having someone from outside give a stamp of approval," Green told CBS.
Kenneth Behr who runs ECFA calls the new ORU board "a great step forward." Reached at a Colorado conference for non-profits, he told CBS, "I am hoping that what we are seeing is a groundswell of public donor insistence of financial integrity."
Last fall, the head of Oral Roberts University Richard Roberts who is Oral Roberts' son, stepped down amid a financial scandal and mounting debt.
Three of the former members of the ORU Board of Regents: Copeland, Hinn and Dollar run ministries that are under scrutiny by Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley who is digging into the finances of six top televangelists as part of a larger inquiry on non-profit institutions and their tax-exempt status.
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