ORU Students Meet School's New President

Friday, January 30th 2009, 5:01 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Students at Oral Roberts University met the school's new president Friday.

Dr. Mark Rutland spoke publicly for the first time after being named to the post earlier this week.

"We are delighted and privileged to be chosen to serve this great university," Rutland said.

He spoke before a packed audience at ORU's Friday morning chapel service.

The university's new president greeted students with a promise of transparency from his administration, beginning with him and his wife.

"Alison and I want to be as open and accessible as we possibly can," he said.

Students said they are impressed by their new leader.

 "Oh, it was so exciting," sophomore Kalee Kunkel said. "He has a great vision, and it was so inspiring for all of us and all of the dreams that we have had."

"He has a good sense of humor," junior Erika Bayless said. "He has a good spirit about him, a good presence."

Rutland replaces Richard Roberts as the university works to come out of dark time in its history.

Roberts resigned after being accused of spending university money for his personal use and three ORU professors sued the university, claiming they had been fired for uncovering evidence against Richard Roberts, allegations Roberts denies.

"I know a lot of students were really hurt by it, really disillusioned, and even though we still have reverence and respect for the Roberts family, I think it was just time to show the students that the administration had the students' best interests at heart," Bayless said.

Rutland's only previous connection to ORU was a job offer in the early '80's that he declined.

Students said they are glad to see someone take over as president who is outside the ORU family.

"Like change and growing ... you've got to bring new people in, and so it's really exciting," sophomore Rachel Jackson said.

It was announced Friday that Mart Green, ORU benefactor and Board of Trustees president, is donating another $10 million to the university to be used solely for renovations this summer.

This is in addition to the $62 million he donated a year ago.