A few weeks ago, we took a broad look at the Vision for a New Century campaign, OBU's ambitious $67 million capital campaign currently underway. Thanks to a very solid effort from the fundraisers and, of course, the generous donors, the campaign seems to be off to a good start.
Last Friday, in fact, OBU hosted a reception for the faculty in celebration of its "goal-topping success" in the faculty/staff phase of the campaign. The employee phase of any campaign is critical. In fact, it's a key metric that prospective donors monitor to assess institutional unity, buy-in, and cohesion.
If you look at the wide gulf the OBU administration has placed between itself and the faculty through its unwise and unethical actions, "cohesion" is probably the last word that comes to mind. Yet the capital campaign will continue apace, claiming (correctly) that the faculty/staff phase exceeded its goal.
There's only one problem.
The truth is that very little of that amount actually came from faculty. This is why, to my knowledge, none of the campaign's literature distinguishes between contributions from professors and contributions from administrators. The fact is that nearly 75% of the faculty/staff goal was pledged by administrators before the faculty was even approached. Now, I'm don't which administrators are independently wealthy or exceedingly generous. But someone dug deep because they knew that many professors could not support this campaign in good conscience, given their many grievances.
Celebrating the faculty/staff phase's "goal-topping success" badly obscures the fact that one or a handful of administrators contributed an outsized proportion relative to what faculty/staff pledged.
It's not technically dishonest, but it does cover over the fact that the administration had to dig very deep to avoid a disappointing end to a phase of the campaign where OBU's greatest asset -- its faculty -- largely declined to participate due to its lack of confidence in the administration and the increasingly fundamentalist direction of the university. Administrators and fundraisers will say to prospective donors in subsequent phases, "We exceeded our goal in the faculty/staff phase of the campaign." And that is true. It's also true that there is a serious difference between campaigns that receive modest but broad support from everyone and campaigns that depend almost exclusively on one or a handful of huge donors (think Ron Paul vs. Newt Gingrich). The differences in enthusiasm, commitment, etc. are unmistakable.
The question prospective donors should be asking administrators is, "Why do OBU professors, by and large, have so little confidence in the current administration?" Of course, no administrator wants to answer that question, and certainly not in the context of soliciting major donors. But it is a question that we here at Save OBU will be happy to answer until OBU is forever free of fundamentalist encroachment.