TULSA, Okla. – The embattled president of Oral Roberts University asked for a second chance during an emergency meeting with the same faculty members who only days earlier gave him a vote of no confidence.
Richard Roberts told professors Wednesday that if he stepped down now, the public would think he was admitting to wrongdoing, said Donald Vance, a professor of biblical languages and literature, who attended the meeting.
Roberts, son of school founder and televangelist Oral Roberts, has been on temporary leave from the evangelical university, fighting accusations that he misspent university funds to bankroll a lavish lifestyle. He became the school's president in 1993.
Oral Roberts, who recently returned from semiretirement in California to the 5,700-student school he founded, called Wednesday's meeting.
The "no confidence" resolution, passed Monday, stated that the faculty approved the motion "without regard to the outcome of the current lawsuit against the university." The faculty plan to distribute the nonbinding document to the school's Board of Regents and the faculty assembly at an upcoming meeting.
The professors also voted "confidence" in Provost Mark Lewandowski's "call for greater faculty governance and transparency of university finances." In a third motion, the faculty asked to be involved in "determining selection criteria for and the actual selection of university leadership."
Toward the end of the hours-long meeting on Wednesday, participants told The Associated Press, Oral Roberts asked the faculty who were willing to forgive and start fresh to stand up.
When a few faculty members wouldn't stand, Oral Roberts asked one of them, "'Are you not ready to start over?"' Vance said.
"The faculty member said, "I don't know what that means, to start over," Vance recalled.
Then, Oral Roberts reportedly responded, "'I would think that would be obvious."'
After that, Vance said he stood up and said, "No, Chancellor Roberts, it's not clear, are you asking us to rescind our three motions?"
Vance said Oral Roberts dropped the matter and asked the faculty to sit down.
A university spokesman declined to comment on the meeting late Wednesday.
Accusations of lavish spending were detailed in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed Oct. 2 by three former professors. The lawsuit includes allegations of a $39,000 shopping tab at one store for Richard Roberts' wife, Lindsay, a $29,411 Bahamas senior trip on the university jet for one of Roberts' daughters, and a stable of horses for the Roberts children.
In a recent interview with the AP, Richard and Lindsay Roberts denied wrongdoing. Richard Roberts has said the lawsuit amounted to "intimidation, blackmail and extortion."