Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We Give More to OBU than the BGCO Does!

Our young movement has reached a significant milestone.  Though we are a diverse coalition OBU stakeholders including alumni, parents, and retired faculty, some of our most passionate supporters are current OBU students.

The revenue paid to OBU by students who have expressed support for Save OBU now exceeds the BGCO's annual subsidy!  That's right!  We paid more to OBU this year than its owner/operator, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

Individually, students unfortunately didn't have any recourse against the recent disastrous changes at OBU (faculty dismissals, gutting core curriculum areas like philosophy, a fundamentalist litmus test for hiring, the bookstore, censorship of course materials, etc).  Students also found that, while a needed step, anonymous protests were easily dismissed by the administration.  Six weeks ago, students began emailing us saying they supported our mission but were afraid to "like" our Facebook page for fear that somehow they could get in trouble.  But those fears quickly subsided.  OBU students now know they are free to hold their own opinions about the university's relationship to the state convention.  Thankfully, many dozens (soon to be hundreds) of courageous students have raised their voices in support of OBU distinctives like academic freedom, open inquiry, and liberty of the conscience -- distinctives that are being quietly but deliberately eroded.  Individually and anonymously, students were easy to ignore.  Collectively and publicly, however, they have ratcheted up the pressure on the administration to stop turning its back on OBU's liberal arts heritage.

It only takes 93 students to provide the same amount of annual revenue ($2,500,000.00) as the BGCO.

We easily have that many student supporters already, and that number will inevitably continue to grow as the word spreads.

In the weeks and months to come, we will be flexing our muscle in more significant ways.  After all, we will provide OBU more revenue this year than Oklahoma's 700,000 Southern Baptists.  We may not elect  any trustees (yet), but we will have a seat at the table.  The faculty (current and former) want the provost out, and since his fingerprints are all over the disastrous changes we oppose, it seems a near certainty that he will eventually move on.  But make no mistake, our strong, principled, and public stand is a big part of what will give the president and trustees the cover they need to stop OBU's descent into fundamentalism, which will enrage the BGCO.

For now, let's celebrate how far we've come in such a short time!  Thanks, OBU students, for your courageous, thoughtful, and prayerful support.


  1. um Jacob in all things the customer pays more than the owner does otherwise the owner will go broke. Only in Washington DC with our president do people not understand this noble concept that you cannot payout more than you take in and survive. So your arguements falls on a number of levels.

  2. in fairness, the revenue provided by students is gross revenue. That provided by BGCO is net revenue. The revenue from students pays for facilities, services, etcetera, and the net will be substantially less. I like the point you are trying to make, but you need to make more of an apples to apples comparison.

  3. OBU operates on a +/- $40M annual budget. The BGCO contributes $2,500,000 -- the same amount as 93 students as he said above. Not sure why the distinction between gross and net matters here. But just so the author's point is not lost, let me attempt to restate it this way: The BGCO has a substantial amount of control over OBU (owns the property and elects ALL the trustees) in exchange for a not very substantial yearly contribution. We alumni are questioning the fairness of that arrangement and hope it does not stand for much longer. Otherwise, the BGCO can do whatever it wants to OBU. Somehow I doubt maintaining a rigorous, balanced Christian liberal arts education is very high on their list of priorities. It seems some want to dumb it down and turn it into a preacher boy camp.

  4. I am very concerned over the issues raised herein. We must admit, however, that the BGCO does, in fact, own OBU. While we can and should influence decision making, we do not own our Alma Mater. The arguement that it is not fair for the BGCO to have so much influence because they put in relatively little capital discounts the fact that they are the owner. We would never attempt to argue that patrons of McDonalds, Target, or any other company should be given usurping rights in decision making over the owners of those entities because said patrons collectively contribute more in annual income. That fact, though true, does not change the fact of ownership. We can attempt to influence through direct petition to the owners or through withdrawel of patronage, among others. We cannot, and as much as we would wish to, should not be allowed to take ownership from the rightful owners, no matter how poor their ownership decisions might be. Let us argue against the merits of the owners decision forcefully and fervently. Let us also abandon, for the sake of our own integrity, this weak position of contribution influence. Let us demonstrate the quality education earned from out beloved OBU by standing on stronger positions than this.

    1. Interesting perspective, Anonymous. But I for one am not sure we would have much influence if hundreds of us started telling 18 year olds to avoid OBU. Well it might have an influence but it seems we need bright kids at OBU to maintain the demand for academic quality and rigor, etc. If we convince these kids not to attend, then won't OBU become a crappy Bible academy even faster? Also, a college education is not like buying a Big Mac. Also, you only buy one in your lifetime. It's now a six-figure investment. The "customers" have much more of a stake in it, so you might say that their opinions, needs, and desires are quite consequential even though they are not "owners" in this case. What "stronger positions" should we stand on?

      -'93 Grad

  5. My perspective is simply this: When we enrolled at OBU, we purchased the right to earn an education. I was never promised an equity position in the school, nor was it implied that any such offer would be forthcoming. Certainly, OBU's leadership hoped for and even encouraged us to recruit others and financially support it. Again, however, no equity position was involved. Unfortunately, we are in the position of heavily invested consumers, but not owners. I will certainly advocate for change to these recent practices. I am in no way endorsing them. Neither do I have any stronger position than this. I do not wish to see the quality of future OBU grads degrees deteriorate.

    -I am proud to be a '90 Grad.


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