We want to make a few points. First, OBU's decline was NOT inevitable. Conscious decisions were made that adversely affected OBU's performance on the metrics that Forbes uses to compile its rankings. Second, there is nothing about being distinctively Baptist that impedes our ability to stand out among Christian and secular institutions. Some other Baptist schools are doing just fine. Third, many intentionally Christ-centered (to use the CCCU's definition) institutions rank exceptionally well, as OBU did before the current administration came to power. And fourth, it should come as no surprise that schools that have severed ties with Baptist state conventions excel in the rankings. The charts below illustrate these latter two points.
As recently as 2009, OBU was undisputedly one of the finest Christian colleges in the United States. A lot of our detractors try to argue, "Well, who cares about rankings? We're being faithful to the gospel." There are so many things wrong with that argument. First, fidelity to the gospel does not require unethical and unprecedented H.R. practices. Were OBU Presidents Raley, Scales, Cothen, Tanner, Hall, Agee, and Brister and their academic officers being unfaithful to the gospel when they abided by Faculty Handbook provisions and sought and valued faculty search committee input in hiring decisions? Of course not! Are schools like Union and Ouachita, not to mention Wheaton, Gordon, and Calvin unfaithful to the gospel because they are not precipitously declining in national rankings? There is no inherent conflict between Christian identity and excellence.
With the formerly Baptist schools, the situation is more complicated. On the one hand, there's absolutely no chance that Wake Forest, Furman, and Richmond would have become some of the best colleges in America if fundamentalists were still meddling in their affairs. But you could argue that those schools' Christian (and Baptist) identities are less explicit now. Still, I'd rather OBU take the path of William Jewell College or Stetson than end up like some of the Georgia Baptist Convention colleges that are on the brink of losing their accreditation. For a long time (the Agee years), OBU was able to keep fundamentalists out, attain excellence, and survive without the OBU-BGCO relationship breaking down.
But those days are over. The battle lines are clearly drawn. Fundamentalists don't share power very well. All they know is total control. And they don't mind wrecking institutions along the way. So as long as OBU has meddlers in Thurmond (or the Baptist Building), we need to be constantly vigilant.