Rutland Prepares to Hand Reigns of ORU to Next President

Dr. Mark Rutland
Dr. Mark Rutland (ORU)

Just two years after Dr. Mark Rutland began his rather remarkable turnaround of the charismatic university founded by its namesake, Oral Roberts University’s Board of Trustees is planning an orderly transition to its next president.

The long-term succession plan for the office of president suggested by Rutland, 63, to the board's leadership committee would culminate in him stepping down in the summer of 2013—after only four years on the job.

Since the new Board of Trustees was established in 2008, and during Dr. Rutland’s two years at ORU, the university has experienced an unprecedented turnaround. These milestones have included eliminating $55 million in long-term debt; completing $40 million in campus renovations; securing over $10.3 million in funding for the Armand Hammer Alumni-Student Center, which will break ground in January 2012; achieving three consecutive years of enrollment growth and two consecutive years of freshman retention over 80 percent; and completing the 2011 fiscal year with positive cash flow.

Charisma News caught up with Rutland to discuss the transition and his plans for ministry after ORU.

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Charisma News: How are you handling the transition?

Rutland: We’re coming up with a plan of succession, a plan of transition. That’s the way good universities do it. University of Tulsa just announced that it is in an 18-month transition plan with its president. So it’s not that I’m leaving at the end of two years. Instead, at the end of two years we’re planning succession for four years. That’s an important distinction.

Charisma News: When does this process begin?

Rutland: Starting in January we will design the process of searching for a new president. ORU may or may not have a president in place by two years from now. I would like my estimated time of departure to be summer of 2013. That gives the Board of Trustees plenty of time to plan and think. It’s one thing to say, “I’m leaving in 60 days." It’s another thing to say, “In two years, I’d like to be eased out.”

Charisma News: What will you do next?

Rutland: A variety of things. I’ve always, of course, done a lot of evangelism, preaching, international work and leadership. The Board of Trustees is hoping I will take some kind of role at the university. I just know that nearly 25 years of high octane, high velocity chief executive leadership in turnaround situations is pretty intense. I’m at a place where I’d like to teach and write. I want to do something creative.

Charisma News: I guess that would be pretty intense.

Rutland: Well, it seems like it to me. By the time I leave ORU, I’ll be nearly 66. A lot of guys leave their chief executive role earlier than that. I just don’t want to use the word “retire” because I’m not retiring. Who knows? Maybe there are some megachurches that step up and want me at that time.

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