NIU's Matt Olson Resigns... Again...

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Greg Linscott's picture
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NIU's Matt Olson Resigns... Again...

http://www.ni.edu/news-events/updates-from-dr.-olson-and-daniel-patz

 

I have made the decision to resign as president of Northland International University effective June 12, 2013. I believe this gives our board the best opportunity to move forward and to succeed. I love Northland. I love those on our board and earnestly desire for them to be successful in their responsibilities. I will do my best to help in every way that I can over the coming days. I will continue to encourage those around me and support Northland in every way that I can.

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TylerR's picture
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Ummmm . . .

Ok.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

Jim's picture
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"OK, stop me if you've heard this one before..." ;)
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historic fundamentalism

We are biblical, historical fundamentalists.

No, I'm not going to talk about Northland. The quote above was in Dan Patz's update and it got me thinking. Perhaps I should just start a new thread, but I'm being lazy.

Plenty  of people, institutions, and churches have used the phrase "historic fundamentalism" or "historic fundamentalist" to describe themselves. But, the funny thing about history is, it's in the past. Always has been, always will be. And, you know the famous line about the past:  "The past is a foreign country." We can't re-live history (o.k. unless you have that special Delorean with the flex capacitor) and we can't re-create it. Yes, I know what people are trying to say when they say "historic fundamentalism". However, it just sounds weird like when a church claims to be a 1st century church in the 21st century. Really? Well, you certainly can do that only selectively. You can't do that whole hog. You can't be just like the first century church and we can't be just like fundamentalists or fundamentalism of the 1920s, can we? There are so many things, people and events that are different.

So, unless we're dressing like the fundamentalists of yesteryear, singing the music they sang, educating our young people in Bible Institutes, using the Bible versions they did, only reading the books they had, etc. we're not being historic fundamentalists. If we hold to the same doctrines and beliefs as them, we are selectively being historic fundamentalists. We're not like those Civil War re-enactors who dress, live, and eat like they're in 1865. Even they eventually change their clothes and go home to the 21st century. They don't even use real bullets.

Well, I hope I haven't broken any commenting protocol. If so, please delete this -- I won't have any hard feelings if you do. Again, my comments aren't about Northland. They're about a phrase used by many people. Maybe I've even said it of myself at one time or another.

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Um

Well, this interesting.  I wonder if it will placate any of the anti-NIU people?

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Placate the anti-NIU people? No.

Jay, you asked if Dr. Olson resigning will placate any of the anti-NIU people?

 

No!

 

Because the people still in leadership are the same ones gung-ho on proceeding with the many different philosophical changes NIU has been implementing and exploring over the past few years.  All those years and years of labor and sweat by people like Dr. Ollila have almost been for naught.  But at least NIU is more gospel centered now more than ever!

 

Could this entire situation, from the many changes instituted to now Dr. Olson's resignation, be any bigger of a mess?  Could it all have been handled any worse?  With Dr. Olson's resignation (we assume that will remain in effect) it brings even more uncertainty about NIU than what already existed.  In my opinion if Dr. Olson had remained NIU would have had the best chance of surviving because it gave people at least some kind of sense of who was in charge and where the school is heading.  But now, it is anybody's guess, including those left at NIU, where they will end up if at all.  As for survival, now I doubt it.

 

Such a needless & unnecessary waste!

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Back to the Future!

The time machine can solve any problem . . .

 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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Wait and see

1. What changed from between the end of April and his rehire and this week?

2.  What will their articles of Faith look like?

3. Based on both announcements philosophy and direction were not the issue, who's in control was.

4. Their Board  has to take on a large influx of nonPatz family so their accreditation does not come under fire (I believe it was Jim back in May that pointed out that the power and money must be separated to not cause accreditation issues).

5. I look at it as what man wants to take on this presidency? 

6. What will the committee report state next week?

 

If nothing else I see NIU with more questions and thus ,in my humble opinion, nothing has really changed at NIU with Matt's resignation.

 

I do pray for the staff and students of NIU as these are not easy days for them.

Greg Linscott's picture
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If they are serious about a change...

...I'm not sure Olson is the best man going forward. It's no secret Northland has been losing money, which happened, for better or worse, under Olson's watch. Olson's connections are in what everyone presumes to be a "dying movement." If they are serious about a change of direction, the best way going forward seems to be bringing in someone with connections outside the established constituency, who might be able to right the financial ship. The alumni have already indicated they will support the continued direction- presumably, this would be whether or not Olson remained at the helm.

It makes sense, on a pragmatic level.

Greg Linscott
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marshall, MN
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Greg

Now I'll admit that my sphere is small, but the alumni I know are not on-board with this new direction.

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Pastor Doug H wrote: Now I'll

Pastor Doug H wrote:

Now I'll admit that my sphere is small, but the alumni I know are not on-board with this new direction.

1181 are, though...

http://friendsofnorthland.com/letter

Greg Linscott
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marshall, MN
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Tyler

The time machine can solve any problem . . .

Even a problem as big as Biff.

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Can they back it up?

Greg,

 

True, almost 1,200 people if you include all the fake names have signed that petition.  Seems to me though that many of the people that signed that petition have little means to back up their support.  That is neither a wealthy group nor generally people with college age kids to send to whatever NIU ends up to be.

 

Regarding NIU's new president, I would think they would have to bring in a big name outside of their historical support base.  They can't continue to play both sides of the isle like they have been trying to do.  

 

Interesting to note in Dr. Olson's comments about his resignation he stated there were differences in the approach to leadership and governance of the university.  Based on that it looks like there are still major internal struggles still occurring within the remaining leadership.

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Trying to figure out role of board

Olson's statement: "differences with our approach to leadership and governance of the university"

There is no one approach to non-profit boards. This article elaborates. 

I found several phrases very positive:

  • "We are confessional baptists and conservative evangelicals. We are biblical, historical fundamentalists."
  • "Northland will not embrace charismatic theology, seeker-driven methodology, or shallow views of liberty. We will pursue holiness and charity"

Re this statement: "Northland is special. There is a DNA that God has given to those who have been part of this place". My view: Not that special. Average. Balance the budget for 5 years .... get regional accreditation ... stabilize (you look flaky). 

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Seeker Driven Methodology? Shallow Liberty?

Jim wrote:

Olson's statement: "differences with our approach to leadership and governance of the university"

There is no one approach to non-profit boards. This article elaborates. 

I found several phrases very positive:

  • "We are confessional baptists and conservative evangelicals. We are biblical, historical fundamentalists."
  • "Northland will not embrace charismatic theology, seeker-driven methodology, or shallow views of liberty. We will pursue holiness and charity"

Re this statement: "Northland is special. There is a DNA that God has given to those who have been part of this place". My view: Not that special. Average. Balance the budget for 5 years .... get regional accreditation ... stabilize (you look flaky). 

 

Good thing they aren't going to embrace a seeker-driven methodology or shallow views of liberty.  For a minute there I was confused about the purpose of their Redeemed rock band, but since now that has been cleared-up there are no more questions to be answered.

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Brenda

You raise a good point. Biff is a force to be reckoned with . . .

 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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Draw conclusions more slowly

This announcement today certainly does not help alleviate concerns about stability, etc., but maybe we could allow some room for the folks making decisions to make them.

It is unreasonable, I think, to expect Matt or Daniel (and by extension, the board) to have nailed down all of the issues of governance that needed to be nailed down before the reinstatement. As Daniel mentions in his release today, they announced at that time that there were going to be some changes in this area. It seems safe to conclude, based on today's announcements, that those changes did not prove acceptable to all parties.

That's understandable to me. Matt has been serving with one set of rules up to this point, but the rules have changed. The board thinks, apparently, that the former set of rules were not serving the institution well enough, so they moved to change them for the future. What other outcome in this kind of situation could be expected? It isn't good, but it probably isn't as bad as if they had a lingering tension over how to govern the institution.

As to Jay's question, I suppose if someone is placated by this turn of events, then they were really anti-Matt, not anti-NIU. I would think, though, that the very label anti-NIU is an unfortunate label--can one not be opposed to institutional changes without being viewed as opposed to the institution?

I, for one, would admit to being uncomfortable with the changes that were made at NIU during the past year, but would not consider myself anti-NIU. While I don't think Daniel wants NIU to be what I would prefer, I do appreciate the clarity with which he expressed what he thinks NIU should be. He's a good man with good intentions in a very, very tough spot. I'm praying for him and NIU.

DMD

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To mmartin

I don't think that fake entries constitute very many of the responses- I would say less than 5%.

With that being said, I don't support the new direction. I am just saying that if they are going to be serious about pursuing it, this move would make sense, and I would think that a sizeable percentage of the Northland constituency would applaud and support, Olson or no Olson, personal wealth or no personal wealth. Regarding students, I would also observe that if the signers are generally my contemporaries (I am 41), there are some that do have college aged kids, and more that will soon enough- my oldest is a HS sophomore this fall, and my next in line is a HS freshman).

'Twill be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Greg Linscott
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marshall, MN
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"Historic Fundamentalism"

I'm of the mind that any one looking to reconstruct ( or something of that ilk)  Historic Fundamentalism or Historic Evangelicalism is trying to harken back to an era that never existed or to ignore the change of circumstances.  For past examples,  I point out:

Billy Graham and his push to revive the pre-1920 city wide crusades.

Harold Ockenga et al. sought to bring back the days when evangelicals were able to mingle at the highest levels of academia (before the flood of Modernism washed them out of the mainline denominational schools) and of society.

 

In neither case were they able to un-ring the bell.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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Gone fishing

Dave Doran wrote:
As to Jay's question, I suppose if someone is placated by this turn of events, then they were really anti-Matt, not anti-NIU. I would think, though, that the very label anti-NIU is an unfortunate label--can one not be opposed to institutional changes without being viewed as opposed to the institution?

I, for one, would admit to being uncomfortable with the changes that were made at NIU during the past year, but would not consider myself anti-NIU. While I don't think Daniel wants NIU to be what I would prefer, I do appreciate the clarity with which he expressed what he thinks NIU should be. He's a good man with good intentions in a very, very tough spot. I'm praying for him and NIU.

I thought about this a little tonight, and although I don't like to see Matt Olson step down, I do think that this is probably a healthy thing.  His name and NIU are linked at this point permanently, and he is going to be scrutizined and marginalized no matter what he does in the future as the 'guy that ruined Northland'.  I agree that he made mistakes in how things were done - probably more than a few, certainly less than I would have - but this is probably the right thing to do.  I'm looking forward to seeing who the new President is and who is on the Board before I can really say that I'm in agreement with all of it or that I'm really excited about the school.  It's got a major challenge on it's hands now, and the departure of the President only adds more to the load.

My bigger point with the 'placating supporters' comment was to see if anyone out there is really of the attitude that I have seen - namely, it would be better for NIU to die than it would be to change the standards.  It was kind of a fishing expedition. I know that at least three people have now written off the school entirely and are actively pushing people away from NIU because of their "compromises" (their term - I view it as the same basic principles with a different outworking).  If the compromises were that bad - then where was the Biblical support for the standards?  That's what I was trying to understand.

I have no quarrel with those who are disappointed and upset - it would be foolish to expect that those who disagree are supposed to just keep a 'stiff upper lip'.  I can totally understand the discouragement / sense of mourning that people who have given money and prayers to support NIU in the past, or for alumni who think that that school has now slidden into liberalism.  I understand that people who loved the school will stop supporting it financially, and that will hurt both parties. I've been through a similar experience, and my 'joy' at the changes at NIU (which I do think are largely for the better) is tempered by the real loss that some I know are experiencing due to the 'fall of Northland'.  It grieves them, and it should.  It's put a strain on one or two of my own friendships with alumni, one of whom was backing away from NIU long before this year's events (2009, IIRC) and that damaged relationship grieves me when I think about it. 

My fascination - and maybe this is my own personal issue - was always the very vocal, very adamant few who want Northland to fail now because of changes to the music, dress, and demerit policies (which was by far the things that were discussed the most on SI).  I just don't understand the vitriol and vehemence of writing off a school wholesale because they made changes, especially after we had all the discussions on music and it still seems like no one can articulate a good, Biblical defense of 'conservative music' (and I'm not interested in reviving any of those threads).  It just seems...fleshly.  Evil.  Wrong.  We can disagree better than this (and I do speak to myself as well).

I never understood the spirit of division and even (yes) hatred that comes from some Christians to other Christians over these things. I just don't get that at all.  The fruit that comes from above is first pure, then peaceable (Jas 3:17).  God is the God of peace, not confusion (I Corinthians 14:33).  We are called to live in peace (2 Cor. 13:11).  The fruit of the Spirit is peace (Gal. 5:22)...you get the idea.   If we're of the Spirit and walking in the Spirit, why the gloating over the financial stuff?  Why the rejoicing that NIU is down in the student enrollment?  Are we so wrapped up in 'the standards' (whatever that is) that we'd really kill our own school for deviating from them? 

As Todd Wood might say - I'm thinking of heart issues.

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Jay

You raise some valid questions.

To your question about the spirit of division and vitriol, I will argue that attitude goes both ways.  To the right, they are fed-up with the half-truths (i.e. that NIU is "not changing," pictures on the web up, then down) coming out of NIU and the horrible reasoning by many of its current progressive supporters.  In all of my reading and listening about this NIU controversy I have rarely ever heard a solid, balanced viewpoint recognizing both sides of the issue.  Usually it is the one side fussing about the 'ol Fundies making a big issue over music while said group makes a big issue over music.  You talk about the fruits of the spirit that should characterize Christians, you would be correct.  Unfortunately both sides too often ignore the very truths and behavior they accuse the other side of doing. 

Yes, there are critics that are happy about the current NIU state of affairs.  But generally I would not say the critics of NIU are gloating over the financial problems or gleefully smiling about the possibility of NIU closing.  They aren't willing to kill the school just because of a deviation from standards.  There are basic business and constituency management principles that NIU have been mishandling now for some time.  They have been warned that if they continue on their path there will be consequences, but they chose to ignore them.  NIU wanted to have it both ways with its historical base and with the progressives.  Trying to have it both ways rarely ever works in business.  In general I wouldn't say the critics are happy about NIU's problems as they are in effect saying you wouldn't listen and you weren't being totally truthful with us.  Now you will reap what you sowed. 

NIU can't continually botch change implementation to the degree they have and then cry foul when people are calling them on it.  Again, I am speaking here from a basic business and customer management perspective.  Cedarville is currently going through some of the same kinds of change issues as NIU.  Not a perfect analogy, I know, but there are some similarities.

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No Sense

Greg Linscott wrote:
...I'm not sure Olson is the best man going forward. It's no secret Northland has been losing money, which happened, for better or worse, under Olson's watch. Olson's connections are in what everyone presumes to be a "dying movement." If they are serious about a change of direction, the best way going forward seems to be bringing in someone with connections outside the established constituency, who might be able to right the financial ship. The alumni have already indicated they will support the continued direction- presumably, this would be whether or not Olson remained at the helm.

It makes sense, on a pragmatic level.

But if that is so, why did the new board rehire Olson? That makes no sense.

Things That Matter

As the quantity of communication increases, so does its quality decline; and the most important sign of this is that it is no longer acceptable to say so.--RScruton

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Can't say for sure...

Brent Marshall wrote:

But if that is so, why did the new board rehire Olson? That makes no sense.

Daniel Patz wasn't in charge then, but it seems to me they wanted to clearly articulate they wanted to pursue the course Olson had started them down by inviting him back. 

Now, DP has had a chance to consider both what the situation he's dealing with really looks like (and how it got to that point under Olson's watch), and how little political pull to attract students Olson has outside of the BJU/FBF Fundamentalism orbit.

Greg Linscott
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marshall, MN
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Insufficient

Greg Linscott wrote:
Daniel Patz wasn't in charge then, but it seems to me they wanted to clearly articulate they wanted to pursue the course Olson had started them down by inviting him back. 

Now, DP has had a chance to consider both what the situation he's dealing with really looks like (and how it got to that point under Olson's watch), and how little political pull to attract students Olson has outside of the BJU/FBF Fundamentalism orbit.

I do not see how Daniel Patz being in charge is a good answer for them. The board is to be in charge. If Patz' arrival is having this big of change in how the board is viewing and managing things, then I think that there are still major board problems.

I have the sense that you are right about the board wanting to make a statement by rehiring Olson. I am concerned that their desire to make such a statement led them to make a hasty, unwise decision. Again, board problems.

I have not followed this closely, but from what I have observed, I do not see how this board warrants any confidence.

Things That Matter

As the quantity of communication increases, so does its quality decline; and the most important sign of this is that it is no longer acceptable to say so.--RScruton

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I was encouraged when I read

I was encouraged when I read the names of his advisory team and the new board members (at least Bob...don't know the other two).

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Link?

Greg Long wrote:

I was encouraged when I read the names of his advisory team and the new board members (at least Bob...don't know the other two).

 

haven't seen the list

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Link to BAC and new board members...
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One thing to remember too,

One thing to remember too, Matt was already let go.  For people who have had this happen, he was already to a point of accepting this and working this out with his family prior to being brought back.  It is easier to step back away, since your mind was already moving in that direction.

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Dunford

Greg Long wrote:

I was encouraged when I read the names of his advisory team and the new board members (at least Bob...don't know the other two).

Pastor Scott Dunford* | Pastor Dunford and his wife Tara both graduated from Northland in 1998. Scott serves as the Senior Pastor of Perry Baptist Church in Perry, Michigan where he has served in various capacities since 2001. Scott also served for 5 years working with a Central Asian people group. He and his wife have four children.

Scott was at NIU at the same time I was.  He's a good man, knows his Bible very well, and (if I remember right), served as both a student body officer and society president.  He stood out from the student body as a solid and well grounded man, and I had a lot of respect for him.

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"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton