Tuesday, February 21, 2012

OBU Students/Parents Weighing Transfer

If the OBU administration was serious about the widespread concern, sadness, and anger its personnel and policy changes have caused in the past two years, it would, at a minimum, acknowledge mistakes in the forced dismissal debacles and appoint a chief academic officer the university community could actually trust to do the right thing.

Continuing to ignore student, faculty, and alumni concerns will have increasing consequences.  Consider this letter we received from an Oklahoma couple who graduated from OBU in the late '80s and whose child is a current underclassman at OBU:
I am concerned about the route the university is taking, to a point where we will make a decision as to whether she will return next fall. 
Our child has not been brought up in a conservative household and consequently holds rather liberal social values.  My husband and I thought OBU is a good place for her because of the lack of a partying atmosphere.  It was also very academic in nature, emphasizing the need to study and LEARN.  We both felt we had a good, well-rounded liberal arts education, and assumed she would receive the same. 
Her [subject area redacted] professor last semester had a decidedly socially conservative slant (which is fine) and led discussion accordingly (which is not).  My daughter felt intimidated if she spoke up with a different opinion.  She even felt her grade might be in jeopardy.  When I learned about your blog and Facebook page, I asked her about it.  She knew about it, but didn’t want to “like” the page for fear she would get in trouble (her words). 
I grew up in [name of BGCO church redacted], and my mother still attends there.  My mother is very concerned about her church’s direction now.  It has caused her and some of her friends, who have been lifelong members, a great deal of disappointment and disillusionment.

How many of these kinds of stories will OBU administrators have to hear before they start paying attention?  Or, should I say, how much revenue will they have to lose (knowing that the BGCO's subsidy accounts for an ever-decreasing proportion of OBU's annual operating budget)?

The concerned parent goes on to say that her mother's pastor, who is not a fundamentalist but who knows how to play nice with the Baptist Building boys, is under scrutiny from the BGCO for his church not sending many students to OBU.  We know the BGCO has a ton of pastors who advise youth in their congregations against OBU because they think it's too liberal.  But could it be the case that the BGCO also has pastors who can't in good conscience recommend OBU because it is becoming too fundamentalist?

Here at Save OBU, we struggled with how to advise prospective students.  Many of our supporters categorically refuse to recommend OBU to young people in their spheres of influence.  But as a community, we settled on a middle ground, providing relevant facts for prospective students in their families to consider while also highlighting the benefits of an OBU education.

As for prospective transfers, I can say (speaking only for myself) I hope this young woman and her parents can find enough confidence in OBU's direction to justify staying.  But I certainly understand their concerns.  And I fear that this situation will have to play out in many more students' lives before top leadership realizes they have a problem.


  1. I had just the oppostie experince at OBU. I sat in several classes and the prof led the discussion in a liberal way and bashed those who held the Bible was inerrant and literal in disdain or at least made it appear that way. I had to hear many use the words "hostile takeover" like Dr Patterson and Judge Presler parachuted from the rafters with machine guns saying "vote for Adrian or die". Not one time did I feel that my grade would be dropped for disagreeing in fact one of the most liberal profs I had gave me full credit on a essay question when it was an oppion question and I bashed his view with Scriptures when he asked for interpetation. I have found liberals to always cry foul when their view is bashed but it is ok to bash another. Yall say academic freedom but do not want it going both ways. If your daughter believes it tell her to stand for what she believe. What about all the conservative students who were not wanting to stay in the old direction?

  2. And what about the professors who are being fired for disagreeing? The current problem does not go both ways and, as far as I know, this is the most violent the problem has become. There will always be tension in a university because the world is ambiguous. That's not the problem. The problem is that right now at OBU non-fundamentalists are being punished in very real ways for not holding those views or for opposing the administration which is carrying out these punishments.

  3. The statement about professors being fired for disagreeing is a large part of this entire blogs arguement, which gives me great confidence in knowing that you are all full of it.

    1. It's not just that two capable and accomplished faculty members were forced out for holding relatively moderate views (although that is wrong and unacceptable). It's that they were badly mistreated in the process, being denied rights and norms that should have been followed but were deliberately ignored. We've also documented more than a dozen other issues that point toward an unprecedented move away from academic freedom and toward fundamentalism. The forced dismissals may be the most egregious and shameful, but they are not the only problems. The only things we're "full of" are concern for the direction of OBU and anger at how its great liberal arts tradition is being eroded.

    2. There were more problems with one of the said professors than just "moderate views." Without getting into personal details, there were other, much more pertinent circumstances into the professor being forced out.

    3. As someone who was at OBU when one of these instances took place, and has talked with both professors that it happened to-- as well as numerous other faculty members current and former, and is engaged to a man who, as a student, was brought into the administrators' office and intimidated because of bringing light to these very same issues, I'm going to go ahead and say that I know exactly what I'm talking about. I also know to what rumors you are probably referring and for that I say, shame on you. I think you "know" one thing about the second professor which I believe, with good reason, to be untrue. AND, even if it is true, that "more pertinent circumstance" has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not that person is qualified to be a professor. The very fact that you "know" about this shows that the administration is not handling these issues very well. You yourself said they are being "forced out." Is that the way that Christian brothers and sisters should be treating each other?

      As for the other professor, that situation could not even be thought of as ambiguous and he was forced to leave because of a minor footnote in something he published which was a very moderate comment.

      So, Anonymous, I don't know who you are or where you are getting your information, but I have been very open about my identity and sources and do not appreciate my friends being slandered by a faceless entity. Please be sweet, present more relevant evidence, or voice your concerns in a non-attacking way in the future.

  4. Anonymous, Your grammar, spelling, and sentence structure leave much to be desired. Your arguments (not arguements) are Circumstantial Ad Hominem arguments. All of this leads me to believe that you must be a typical SBC preacher who went to school to get a couple of degrees but you didn't learn much. Where do you pastor--Toad Suck #9 Baptist Church in Nowhere, Oklahoma? Don't worry, you'll get that bigger church if you continue on your path of being a SBC loyalist. The Good Ole Boys always reward their little mindless imitators. How is it that you know "personal details" about one of the professors dismissed? Have you had a personal conversation with the professor? Of course not. You have a warped sense of fairness. You would judge another person based on hearsay and rumor without allowing the person to defend himself. I would be careful about making any more posts such as the one above. It is slanderous. And someone might find out who the anonymous little coward is. Of course fundamentalists don't mind slandering another person who is not a member of their retrogressive shrinking kingdom of arrogant proselytizers. You fit in well with the new SBC--the perfect combination of arrogance and ignorance.

  5. P.S. Jack, let's keep the conversation uplifting and clean, eh? I appreciate your sentiment but I like to hope those of us vying for education which leads to a better world could keep it above the belt.


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