TULSA, Okla. — Oral Roberts University will lay off about 100 employees, days after it agreed to a near-$450,000 separation agreement with its former president who resigned amid a spending scandal.
The layoffs represent roughly 10 percent of the university's work force, but the school did not specify which departments would be targeted.
"You can't spend more than you're taking in," said ORU interim president Ralph Fagin. "This is the last choice you want to make because we have such great employees."
The school, with a budget this fiscal year of about $91.8 million, is more than $17 million in debt. Last year, it revealed it was more than $50 million in the red.
It has since whittled the figure down thanks largely to billionaire Oklahoma City businessman Mart Green, who took the reins at ORU in January after donating $70 million and pledging to restore the public's trust in the school.
Allegations of mispending
The announcement of layoffs comes days after the evangelical school completed a separation agreement with former president Richard Roberts, who stepped down last year amid allegations he misspent school funds to live in luxury.
Under the terms released Friday, ORU will pay Roberts his $223,600 annual salary for the remaining term of his appointment, which was to run through November 2009.
Before the separation agreement became final, Roberts also had to pay back $23,179 in personal and travel expenses incurred before 2004 that had not been billed to or paid by Roberts, the university said.
Roberts, the televangelist son of school founder Oral Roberts, was accused along with his wife, Lindsay, of spending money on shopping sprees, home improvements and a stable of horses for their daughters at a time when ORU was badly in debt. Both have repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
Fagin said Roberts' payment package and the layoffs were unrelated issues. "The reduction in force is necessary regardless of what happened in any separation agreement," he said.
Fagin said he anticipates cutting 100 employees will be enough, but refused Monday to rule out additional budget cuts. "It always is a moving target no matter what business you're in," he said.
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