Thursday, April 26, 2012

Save OBU's Information Sources

Don't get too excited.  I'm not naming any of our sources.  We are not journalists and we certainly have an agenda, but we are absolutely committed to preserving the anonymity of anyone who requests it.  We are not looking for "dirt" on anyone -- all we care about is pushing back against fundamentalist encroachment -- but we certainly do appreciate the people who have taken time and some personal risk to share facts about OBU governance and administration so that we can provide that information to a wider audience.

Many readers and supporters have expressed thanks for the well-researched and well-documented blog posts.  We will continue to operate at a high standard of integrity.  Certainly there have been uncomfortable moments along the way.  I made a mistake in my second blog post back in December, inferring too much from an OBU press release about a faculty member.  Veronica exposed an embarrassing situation last month in a post that demonstrates the adverse consequences of administrators overruling faculty search committee recommendations, something that had unfortunately become quite common (though we are hopeful will not happen this year).

There are plenty of things we haven't reported.  Sometimes, we receive information that points to a conclusion that without multiple attestation could be inconclusive.  Other times, we receive information that we can't use because reporting it could compromise the identity of the source.  Still other times, we learn things that are true and perhaps interesting, but ultimately not very relevant to our cause.

We know based on readership statistics alone that we're having an impact.  But one frustrating thing is that our impact is difficult to quantify.  For example, we know that certain meetings have been held with trustee, administrative, and convention leaders.  But we don't know the extent to which "dealing" with Save OBU was on the agenda, or what the outcomes of those meetings were.  (Our perception is that, on Gandhi's "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" model of nonviolent resistance, Whitlock and Norman are ignoring us and the BGCO is laughing at us.)  We know that President Whitlock had been scheduled to be in the Holy Land for a month this spring.  We would like to believe that pressure from the faculty, retirees, and Save OBU helped lead him to conclude that it would be unwise to be away from campus with so much active discontent, especially during the season when faculty openings are being filled, and that no one trusts Provost Norman to be left in charge of hiring.  But for all we know, Dr. Whitlock's trip may have been cancelled because not enough people signed up to go on the tour.  We just don't know.

With all that said, here are a few of our informational needs.  Now that our readership has grown substantially, maybe some of you can help.  Our email address is

Ancient History

  • The "Heresy Paper" controversy in '79-'80.
  • The Baptist Hospital System's disaffiliation from the BGCO in the early 1980s.  We're not interested in the controversy about sex change operations.  We need to know more about nuts and bolts of how and why a large affiliate ended its relationship with the convention.

Recent History

  • We have a good sketch of how the last OBU presidential search played out.  But we need to know more about how the convention (or its executive director) influenced that process.
  • We haven't reported on changes in the College of Fine Arts in the past few years.  We need to know more about how it came to be that a BGCO executive became dean.  We're also looking for more information about the theater department and the degree to which there has been unwanted administrative meddling in that area.

Current Events

  • Now that searches are being conducted for several faculty positions, we want to make sure that the committees' preferences are honored.  Knowing that this norm has been violated on multiple occasions in the recent past has been a tremendous help to our movement and has galvanized support.  We need to know what is going on in each case.  We don't care about the particulars of applicants (because we, unlike the administration, actually trust the faculty's judgment in choosing new colleagues).  We just want to know if there's been interference.
  • We're told that there has been widespread dissatisfaction with the bookstore and that the Faculty Council would be addressing that issue this spring.  But with all these other problems, we haven't been able to follow up.

If you know of someone who may have insight into any of these matters, please forward this blog to that person.  But again a reminder: please don't engage current OBU faculty about Save OBU.  They are not in a position to publicly support us and bringing up the issue will only create a difficult situation for them.  Don't worry, we are hearing from faculty from time to time as issues arise, and are assured that we have significant (though by no means unanimous -- we're not claiming that -- support from faculty).

Also, we have a few short-term research projects that basically involve Web searching.  If you can help out with one of those, let us know.


  1. "We KNOW that President Whitlock had been scheduled to be in the Holy Land for a MONTH this spring."

    A month?! WOW!

    I would probably bet that it was closer to 10 days, although I agree that a month does sound better in this exaggerated attempt to make a point ;)

    1. Actually it was supposed to be six weeks in March and April. We're just glad he did the right thing and was a visible leadership presence this spring during the interview/hiring season for new faculty.


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