Open Letter Concerning Cedarville University
Larry D. Green
Summary Facts about Survey
To date, more than 550 individuals have used this survey to express their opinion. There was a 100% completion rate of the 8-question survey. And it took the average person just over 90 seconds to complete the survey. All entries were IP verified. The two most important questions in the survey are Q2 and Q7.
Q2: Are you in agreement with the Trustees decision?
Q7: Should the Trustees stand by their decision?
Consequently, those two charts and their results should be given the greatest attention. The other 6 questions give context and greater understanding to those answers, and are captured in the other three charts or are included as supplemental in the Charts for Questions 2 and 7. The relevance of Question 8, which asked, "What is your relationship to Cedarville University? (Check all that apply.)", is captured in the callout on the Chart for Q7. More than 23% of participants are former or current employees.
Participants in the Survey
Perhaps what is most significant about this survey is that 97% of those who participated were not simply interested onlookers, but committed stakeholders: alumni, students, parents, current and former faculty and staff, local residents, pastors and donors. And though 60% of the stakeholders are alumni, more than 42% of the alumni indicated at least one additional relationship to the school (local resident, faculty, staff, parent, donor), and sometimes multiple relationships. In other words, most of participants not only have a strong connection to the University, but have also made and continue to make a significant contribution to the school.
Charting Q2 (and Q1)
97% of the participants fully read the Trustees’ June 26th statement in which they revealed some of the results of law firm’s findings and as well as their decision to reinstate the president. While 7% were undecided, the clear majority (8 out of 10) disagreed with the Trustees’ decision. The strength of that disagreement is not only captured by the numbers, but also by the terms used to describe the stakeholders’ reaction to that decision in the second chart (Q3).
Understandably, the 11.5% that agreed with the Trustees’ decision responded with gratitude and/or relief, and some chose the term expected. Clearly, the strongest responses were disappointment and/or outrage by the 81% who disagreed with the decision. What was interesting about those who disagreed with the decision is that some also added the response, expected. In other words, many did not have confidence in this board of trustees to “get it right”. So while they were disappointed and/or outraged, some were not surprised. This is a sad commentary on the moral values and integrity of the current board.
Equally disappointing to the Trustees’ decision is their neglect to gain the perspective or input from ANY stakeholders. The fact that the Trustees only considered the law firm’s report and its narrowly defined focus—as condemning and troubling as it proved to be—was a major deliberate misstep by the Trustees. This again indicates how either out of touch or indifferent they are to the community, both locally and on campus. A simple look at the transition in the make-up of the current board members over the past decade shows the growing disconnect with the regional community and historic constituency.
Charting Q5 and Q6
Whether survey participants read the open letter was a secondary matter at best, and only ancillary to the primary questions of "what the trustees have done" (Q2) and "what the trustees should do" (Q7). But those who did read the letter indicated that they found far more with which to agree than to disagree. While vindicating at one level, it is far more telling and disappointing at another. The fact that there would ever be such a situation at Cedarville University that ANY significant percentage of stakeholders would find themselves unable to trust the board and president to act with integrity is disgraceful.
Charting Q7 (and Q8)
Question 7 is debatably more significant than Question 2, for it is not simply a commentary on the Trustees’ past action, but a call for the Trustees to take action on behalf of its stakeholders. If Q2 was an indictment of the Trustees’ first decision, Q7 is a plea to and an opportunity for the trustees to reconsider and reverse their decision. The results of this question clearly indicate that the majority of those who were undecided concerning the trustees reinstatement decision, are now confident that the trustees should reconsider and remove the president. And especially note the breakdown by relationship, and remember that these all love the school and want what is best for it. Not a single donor in this survey believed the President should retain his position. And more than 9 out of 10 current and former faculty and staff, local residents, and parents, believe the president has lost the credibility to lead. Even the students, who are the most favorable, are nearly 2 to 1 against his reinstatement. Remove the students and pastors, and 95% of survey participants believe the trustees should reconsider their decision.
What Do You Do When Authority Fails You…
An open letter addressing the recent Action of the Trustees of Cedarville University.
When you have appealed to the only earthly authority in a given situation and they fail to respond in a God-honoring way, what recourse do you have?
This is the question many faculty, staff, alumni, parents, students, donors and friends of Cedarville University are asking today. And it is a painful question with limited options.
You cannot appeal to the President of the school, for it is his actions that are in question.
The trustees alone stand in the position of appeal. Yet, it would appear that they have closed their eyes on the obvious facts open to all of us, and have closed their ears to any voice other than their own.
The report of an outside law firm, even with the limited and narrowly defined inquiry established by the board itself (which is another issue), confirmed what was already known. The President of Cedarville University intentionally deceived the board (and everyone else at the institution and in the community) in hiring Anthony Moore and withheld vital information from the very body entrusted with the governance of the institution.
Read that last sentence again. Let it sink in.
The President of Cedarville University intentionally deceived the board (and everyone else at the institution and in the community) in hiring Anthony Moore and withheld vital information from the very body entrusted with the governance of the institution.
Now consider this… the Board of Trustees, knowing this, chose to retain this man as its President. Now let that sink in.
Even in the obfuscating legalese of the law firm’s statement it is clear that the President failed in his stewardship responsibility. In the limited statements we were granted to hear from them, they write,
“It is reasonable to infer from the evidence available that President White took steps that he knew, or should have known, clouded the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct,… and subsequently failed to notify the Board of the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct.”
When Paul withstood Peter to the face over the vital issues of the gospel, integrity and hypocrisy, I am pretty sure that he didn’t say to Peter, “It is reasonable to infer…” Paul said, “I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned” (Galatians 2:11-14).
The only charge that the Trustees are requiring of the president is that he take some classes and “lead Cedarville University to emphasize victim prevention, awareness, advocacy, and other related areas.” They are asking him to lead in the one area that he has clearly demonstrated that he is unqualified. Seriously? There may be a time when an alcoholic will be ready to lead a 12-step program, but let’s wait until he can at least pass a breathalyzer test himself.
I think it is reasonable to infer that the board of Trustees is now complicit with their President in his abusive leadership of the institution. For by their action they have clearly established a new and very different standard of excellence for the Presidency of Cedarville University, and consequently for all trustees, faculty, staff and students going forward.
“…by their action they have clearly established a new and very different standard of excellence for the Presidency of Cedarville University.”
Is this what the Trustees want as the face of the University? Is this the new standard of integrity for presidential leadership at Cedarville? We are not talking about a differing of opinions on secondary matters. We are not talking about differing priorities in a strategic plan. We are talking about deception, manipulation and abuse of authority by the lone executive officer responsible for the moral and spiritual direction of the institution. So tell us please, what is a fireable offense?
“We are talking about deception, manipulation and abuse of authority by the lone executive officer responsible for the moral and spiritual direction of the institution.”
Is the cabinet, faculty and staff expected to respect, trust and follow his leadership simply because of the board’s resolution? Are alumni expected to continue to support and promote the school in spite of our shame and embarrassment? It would appear to those of us with a vested interest in the school, both its history and its future hopes, that the Trustees are only concerned about two numerical indicators — enrollment and dollars — and as long as they are headed in the preferred direction, all is well and we need not worry or rock the boat. But the hand and blessing of God can depart without one knowing it, even while all of the temporal and earthly measures look comparatively good to those only concerned about the bottom line.
The Hope: Honor
I have taught my sons—all graduates of Cedarville University—that “the Lord honors those who honor Him” (1 Samuel 2:30). Even if a decision is to your own hurt, you honor the Lord above all.
Our hope in this particular situation, as the news of the President’s actions first came to light for many of us on April 25th, was that he would do the honorable thing. That he would truly recognize and personally own his breach of ethics, his harm to the testimony of Jesus Christ before a watching world, his damage to the churches and individuals involved, his failed stewardship as the chief executive officer of the institution, and his prideful and blatant deception to carry out his personal agenda. And, consequently, that he would fully own his failure without qualification or justification, and step aside for the sake of the institution, and for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.
But,… he didn’t.
Whether he considered it or not, I do not know. Whether anyone close to him ever encouraged him to do so, I do not know. But his failure to do so only affirmed that he continued to be blind to the severity of his “missteps” and the disqualifying nature of his judgement.
But there was still hope… When the President lacked the courage and integrity to do the honorable thing, we rightly looked to the Board of Trustees to do the the honorable thing on behalf of all of us who have been tossed and overturned in the wake of this one man’s prideful and unilateral decisions. And at first, it looked as if they might take it seriously.
But,… they didn’t.
Even our declining culture takes such abusive leadership and the mishandling of sexual offenses more seriously than the Trustees of Cedarville University. I never would have thought we would see such a day in my lifetime. Wonderful. We are now left with an institution whose standards are lower than the culture around it. So much for being “above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).
“Even our declining culture takes such abusive leadership and the mishandling of sexual offenses more seriously than the Trustees of Cedarville University.”
And let’s be perfectly candid and honest. When there is a known failure of judgment and a breach of ethics this significant, you can be sure that there are other signs of abusive, deceptive and manipulative leadership under the hood at Cedarville University. Unfortunately, instead of taking a closer look, the Board of Trustees just chose to close the hood and keep driving.
“…instead of taking a closer look, the Board of Trustees just chose to close the hood and keep driving.”
So,… what DO YOU DO when authority fails you…?
You appeal again,… and again, and again, and again. For even an uncaring and corrupt judge “who does not fear God or respect men” will eventually get it right even if for the wrong reason (Luke 18:1-8).
And so, if there is still a Trustee or two of the caliber of the two men who had the integrity to step down over this decision, who fear God and respect men, I strongly appeal to you. Please prayerfully reconsider and have the courage and humility to reconvene and do the right thing, the honorable thing. It is not too late.
Unfortunately, so many have already been deeply wounded and suffered life-altering consequences in the wake of one’s man’s actions. But what is most troubling for many of us is the fact that the one man who caused it all is the only one not held accountable! There was not even a censure of his actions or a rebuke of his deception!
“…what is most troubling for many of us is the fact that the one man who caused it all is the only one not held accountable.”
As an alumnus, as the son of the first campus pastor and Vice President for Christian Ministries (’70-’95), and as the pastor of the church that gave birth to Cedarville as a Baptist School in 1953, regrettably, I can no longer endorse the school. If it were possible, I would ask for the return of the motto that our church gave to the school, “For the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.”
The president frequently concludes his letters, videos and social media statements with the line, “God is faithful. You can trust Him.” That is so true. And in that we all can rest. Unfortunately, the same can no longer be said about the governing body and the executive officer of Cedarville University.
Heartbroken, but Still Hopeful,
Larry D. Green, ’82