The campus and assets of Northland International University gifted to Southern Seminary

There are 187 Comments

Ron Bean's picture

The mention of an SBC presence in the frozen north (Bay Lakes Baptist Association in Appleton, WI) should benefit both parties. Its mention reminded me that the SBC is not as regional as it used to be.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Mike Harding's picture

This is probably the only way NIU survives.  They are well under 200 students and graduating a significant portion this year.  Will Boyce start putting their faculty or administration in faculty positions next year?  Very possible.  The whole NIU story is a sad one to me when I consider where the college was at the end of Dr. O's presidency and where Matt Olsen took it.  He owns this story.  This is his legacy and it is not a good one.

Pastor Mike Harding

mmartin's picture

Questions & Comments

1  Does this means NIU effectively no longer exists?

2  Knee jerk reaction:  Sounds like a "surrender" of sorts admitting NIU can't make it anymore, which is not a surprise to anyone.  It is either give itself to Southern or become abandoned sooner than later.

3  What does this mean to the college side of the now non-Northland organization?  It can't be good for enrollment,for sure in the short-term, as the changes still haven't stopped. 

4  I know it has been said many times already, but I strongly feel it needs to be said again and again, inept leadership caused this mess.  You cannot mess with financial and business management 101 and expect to survive.  Too many ministries are run by idiots who know nothing about basic business management.  Their horrible management affects all of the people that work under them.  I could go on and on about this topic, because it irritates me how all too often ministries poorly treat the very people that make the ministry happen.

5  What a waste of Papa Patz' financial legacy!  I know many will disagree with me, but NIU burned through $10,000,000 in only a handful of years.  Think about that, TEN MILLION DOLLARS!!  Gone!  You can't tell me after all Mr. Paul Patz went through in his life personally and all he gave to Northland that losing that amount of money is OK.  I know his legacy lives on in the work of the many pastors & missionaries, etc. that work around the world.  However, that kind of money at an educational organization is meant to be in perpetuity.  Doesn't matter if it was an actual endowment or not.  You do not play around with an organization's finances like that.

mmartin's picture

Mike Harding wrote:

This is probably the only way NIU survives.  They are well under 200 students and graduating a significant portion this year.  Will Boyce start putting their faculty or administration in faculty positions next year?  Very possible.  The whole NIU story is a sad one to me when I consider where the college was at the end of Dr. O's presidency and where Matt Olsen took it.  He owns this story.  This is his legacy and it is not a good one.

Agreed 100%.  This is the legacy of Matt Olson and Cary Smith, the former CFO.

Unfortunately they aren't around to "Own" it because they've been "called" on to other places of ministry.

Jim's picture

Think of if the Patz family had gifted an existing institution instead of building their own.

Really (and if you've ever driven there you will realize how remote it is) ... it is way out there in the middle of nowhere. The address says "Dunbar" but when you drive through Dunbar one shakes his head - 'where is it?".

It's remoteness results in their being few jobs available for students (contrast Faith in the Des Moines northern suburb of Ankeny).

I view it as Patz's folly

Contrast: Farmer gifts estate to Faith

Tiny Faith Baptist Bible College in my home state of Iowa recently received a $7.5 million gift from a deceased farmer and his wife. That’s roughly the amount of the college’s yearly operating budget.

Comment: I can't even find the guy's name. Just a quiet servant of God!

mmartin's picture

Thanks Jim!

So NIU effectively ceasing to exist is what I and others have predicted.  If NIU didn't close this year, I thought for sure by the end of next year.

Time will tell what Southern can do with the campus and facilities.  They will need to subsidize it exponentially and we'll see how they manage it.

Still, I wouldn't be surprised at all in a few years to hear of Southern gifting it to some other organization.

mmartin's picture

Jim wrote:

Think of if the Patz family had gifted an existing institution instead of building their own.

Really (and if you've ever driven there you will realize how remote it is) ... it is way out there in the middle of nowhere. The address says "Dunbar" but when you drive through Dunbar one shakes his head - 'where is it?".

It's remoteness results in their being few jobs available for students (contrast Faith in the Des Moines northern suburb of Ankeny).

I view it as Patz's folly

Contrast: Farmer gifts estate to Faith

Tiny Faith Baptist Bible College in my home state of Iowa recently received a $7.5 million gift from a deceased farmer and his wife. That’s roughly the amount of the college’s yearly operating budget.

Comment: I can't even find the guy's name. Just a quiet servant of God!

Jim,

I get what you are saying, but I disagree. 

Time and space don't permit me to effectively elaborate here, but the short of it is that Olson burned through $10M, poked a stick in the eye of the historical & core constituency, and was less than forthcoming about the changes he was implementing.  He oversaw that entire process which resulted not in growth and sustainability, but in confusion, waste, and now closure.  These actions affected not only the students, but also the many faculty and staff who were let go who owned homes in an area where it can take a year to sell a house.  In addition, there are churches in that area once heavily supported by NIU who have mortgages who now have dwindled in attendance exponentially and yet must still pay for the mortgage.

In other words, he had all those resources and now there is nothing to show for it.

This is no small matter!  It demands proper attention and not swept under the rug (not saying Jim you are suggesting this).  We need to call a spade a spade.

Bert Perry's picture

It's worth noting that Northland does have 2900 graduates that are, more or less, serving all over the country and world, no?  That is what the Patz family wanted to invest in primarily, as brothers and sisters don't get burned up, but buildings--even masonry ones like those at Northland--do.  Right?

Now I can quibble over whether the direction is right, and whether they'd have been better off simply to contribute to another school, and rightly so--it would seem that the money might have done a lot elsewhere.  But let's not forget what the primary goal was.

Let's revisit the number of graduates again; 2900 graduates is about 75-100 per year since it opened in 1976.  That would suggest about 4-500 students at its peak--NBBC grads, am I close?  

Looking at the areal shot, it appears to be built for a lot more than 400 students--though that appears to be about what the dorms will hold.  So I'd wonder if a persistent headache for the board was to reconcile programs and the cost of maintaining the facilities.  Even sans debt, you pay 5% a year or so just keeping the maintained, heated and the like.  

One might posit that the dream of the founders was far beyond the reality which fundamental churches could support.  And I would agree that the location would make it difficult for many students to attend and find jobs, and that confusion over direction didn't help, either.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

MMartin -

Time and space don't permit me to effectively elaborate here, but the short of it is that Olson burned through $10M, poked a stick in the eye of the historical & core constituency, and was less than forthcoming about the changes he was implementing.  He oversaw that entire process which resulted not in growth and sustainability, but in confusion, waste, and now closure. 

You clearly don't know what you're talking about.  Olson didn't have anything near 10MM to work with, and NIU ran significant financial deficits as early as 2004.  I know because I was tracking this and talking about it with other NBBC/NIU Alumnae (and a few select friends and family) back then.  When I was a freshman student there, ministry and missionary children could attend for what may have been as little as 1/10th of the total cost due to the Patz family's largesse.  By the time I graduated, the scholarship was something like 40%.  Too many students, not enough $.   Is anyone asking hard questions of Dr. Ollila?  Marty Herron, who was on the Board?  Anyone else?  Or all we all too busy attacking Matt Olson, who can't even defend himself online anymore without being shouted down by a chorus of holier than everyone fundamentalists?

Someone mentioned overbuilding.  When I graduated, there were five men to each dorm room in the North wing (I think they were originally designed for 2 or 3) and the women were living in off campus trailers by the faculty homes because there was no way to shoehorn more women into that building.  NIU badly needed to renovate the dorms and create more room.  The classroom space was even more dire - that's why the Founder's Center was built.   There was no extra classroom space to use.

As convenient and thrilling as it may be to whack the Olson pinata some more - and I can say this as someone who graduated before his tenure - those of you who are delighted or mourning the loss of another 'fine Independent Fundamental Baptist' institution to the darkness and "apostacy of the SBC" really need to get a grip and look at the world around you instead of chasing the unicorns of 'conservative Christian culture' or what have you.  Schools like NIU closed because the traditional IFB demographic is declining, the economy is lousy, and their erstwhile friends, like Lou Martuneac, John Vaughn, and Don Johnson, were busy kicking them in the shins about all the 'apostacy' when the full extent of the problems became known.  Which, by the way, is what necessitated a lot of the other changes - because no school can survive the loss of all it's students or the accompanying gossip / slander / libel by those who are insistent on an idealized 'fundamentalism' that is dying.  

Northland's problems existed LONG before Olson was around, and it's fun and exciting to blame him for everything.  But it's not the whole story, and anyone that insists that it's all Olson's fault is ignorant of the school's history.

I mentioned this before, and will repeat it again.  Northland is not BJU.  Northland never WAS BJU.  Northland could never have BEEN BJU.  And I'm profoundly thankful for that, because the emphasis on discipleship and their willingness to meet me where I was as a new believer helped me stay in the faith long after my time there.

And as for SBC - I would much rather a school that taught the Gospel and trained missionaries, pastors, and teachers survived in the arms of the SBC than I ever would root for that school to close.  But wisdom is justified by her children, I suppose, as Jesus said.

As for what Bert said - my class was approximately 400, if I remember correctly.  And this statement in particular:

One might posit that the dream of the founders was far beyond the reality which fundamental churches could support.  And I would agree that the location would make it difficult for many students to attend and find jobs, and that confusion over direction didn't help, either.

is sadly spot on.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

mmartin's picture

Jay,

 

While I appreciate your perspective, I do know what I'm talking about.  I know exactly what I'm talking about.  One such source is Dr. Bobby Wood's doctorate dissertation which states the $10M amount at the time Dr. Olson became president.  I know at one time you could find it on the internet.  I read it myself.  In addition to this, I am well aware of other information that confirms my statements.

Yes, there is truth that NIU's problems existed before Olson arrived.  No doubt!  However, he didn't fix them, but proceeded to create new ones and accelerate the downfall process.

I do not buy the idea that NIU closed because fundamentalism is declining.

This is not a case of holier than thou fundamentalists calling into account the leader under whose watch most people acknowledge the slide downward happened.  I'm not calling him names, etc., but I am saying this is a serious matter for numerous reasons.  Whether there is dysfunctional leadership at NIU or another, it needs to be called out, brought into the light and as I said before, we need to call a spade a spade.

We are talking about limited and precious resources given by God that must be managed correctly.  In addition, the decisions made in a ministry like NIU affect hundreds of people including their livelihood & their future.  Not picking on you, Jay, but the way I see it way too many Olson supporters look at this situation through a key hole and do not seem to recognize wider issues.

Jim's picture

Consider the collapse of the timeshare industry. There are owners who bought timeshares for 10-20K ... and pay upwards of $ 1000 per year in maintenance fees. There was a timeshare bubble and owners found their timeshares to be virtually of no value [search Ebay for proof of this]. What to do? I know of a guy who paid a friend who was filing for bankruptcy to take over his timeshare and then have it discharged in bankruptcy. There's a whole business built around getting out of a timeshare and the onerous annual maintenance fee. 

The Northland campus has to be expensive to maintain ... now it's SBTS' problem. 

Brian Keith's picture

I don't know what to think yet. I understand Christian education, budgets, and societal change involving ministry having been in it for 19 years now. I do miss the Northland of Patz, Ollila, Von, and Herron, yet I wasn't dismayed by some of the recent philosophical changes, although implemented too hastily. I realize something needed to be done, and I was hoping for some sort of short-term assistance, but this sounds very permanent.

Having been there as a "faculty brat" throughout the 80s (pre-Ollila and beyond) and a student in the early-to-mid 90s and then a Christian school teacher/administrator/coach who sent students there to school and other activities until 2011, I am thankful that I was able to see it at 125 total students before Ollila to its peak in the late 90s/early 2000s of around 700 on-campus students or so.  I believe my class was the first with over 200 freshman in 1992.  Those were great days - I will miss them!!  Having lived most of my years from 2nd grade to 22 years old on campus, I have a flood of memories that I will treasure.  I was hoping my own boys would have Northland as an option for college.

I certainly want the place used for Christ, but in essence it is no longer the Northland we knew or maybe Northland at all. My college is gone, yes, replaced with another fine institution but not my Northland. I love Daniel and have known him since he was in 1st grade, and I'm glad he and Scott are a part because they understand the Northland heart as well as anyone. I hope this works out well and God can and will use this property, but I just hate losing the old Northland we loved.

mmartin's picture

Here is an additional link to public NIU financial information from the fiscal year 6/1/2011-5/31/2012 showing NIU lost $2.1M.  In ONE year it lost $2.1M.

http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/39-0977529/northland-mission.aspx

Also, page 117 in Dr. Wood's dissertation states the $10M fund amount in a letter from the Endowment Fund Committee expressing concern over the diminishing amount of the principal of the fund.  They are concerned about the sustainability of the fund and NIU in general.  This letter is dated May 31, 2005.  See also pages 115-119.

Question:  In May 2005 if the Board is expressing concern over the declining balance of the fund, then what happened between then and 2011-2012 when in one year it lost $2.1M?  Did Dr. Olson ignore the board or the did the board change their mind?

 

 

Joel Tetreau's picture

Well - Here we go again.

I've been connected to IBL for nine years as either a board member or staff member. I remember when the economy tanked we saw across the board - (various groups, denominations, associations....), local churches, para churches, etc.....a major decline in asset's, finances, etc....As Jay has noted it simply is not possible to lay all or even most of the financial realities of Northland at the feet of Matt.

There probably is a foundational reason why some of us see this as primarily positive and others of us see it negative. Those of us in the main who see it negative, view Christianity primarily through the lens of a certain fundamentalist "sub-culture." That is most of you would admit that God works in other groups, but you see your own denomination as superior and so the loss of Northland to the SBC is hard. It's hard if not impossible for me to be fair here because Matt is my friend and I don't view his leadership or motivation as suspect like some of you do. Frankly no one has been hurt deeper emotionally over the loss of homes, employment, friendships, etc....than Matt Olson. Some of you paint Matt as if he maliciously planned to kill the school. That's an irresponsible twisting of the facts. Yes Matt lead the school in a direction that was different in some ways - but I know for a fact that Matt worked hard at involving other leaders in the discussions about the changes that were going on. It's frankly too easy to be an arm-chair quarterback after the fact spouting what some of you ..... spout.

My guess is for years there probably was a Type A/B element in the school wanting to go one way and a Type B/C element in the school wanting to go another way. My guess is for years there was an uneasy alliance that was able to co-exist (probably in large part because of the good relationships between Les, Matt, Sam, Doug, Board members who loved each other in spite of the differences, etc....). Eventually the B/C element grew stronger and stronger resulting in the inevitable parting of the ways. Frankly many of us who have pastored churches have had a group of three or four families leave the church because their voice is no longer heard. It's often that those disgruntled families will complain "someone stole my church," when in reality they "lost their church". That is others in the ministry developed a philosophy and methodology that was different enough than the earlier stage of ministry to make the "old-timers" uncomfortable. In many cases the old guard failed maintain a philosophy agreed by a majority of the group, in some cases because it was inferior. Again I'm guessing - but it would not surprise me at all if that is the reality of what happened at Northland because these kinds of things happen in other ministries/denominations all the time.

Those of us who see this as positive are thankful that unlike other institutions whose life came to a close, Northland will continue to produce leaders for sake of a better denomination than Type A fundamentalism - that would be the wider evangelical testimony for Christ that will continue to honor the faith that was once delivered to the saints. For those who have a serious and deep loyalty for the denomination that Northland was in, I understand this is hard. Perhaps this is a chance for you to look beyond your own denomination and notice how other groups - yes - like Southern Baptists are being used greatly for God's kingdom. It doesn't mean you have to become southern baptist - but perhaps you could stop thinking of them as "the enemy" because they are not! I think one could legitimately say, "Im sad Northland is not what I remember" but....."I'm excited about how God can use it for His glory in the days to come."

On a personal note - Matt's testimony and legacy continues to be faithful. Matt was and continues to be faithful - as a pastor, a husband, a brother, and he continues to be faithful as an educator. I've heard Matt admit to mistakes and failures that took place in the last season of his leadership of Northland. You men need to understand far more of us still love and trust Matt then don't - that's why he was invited to be one of the key note speakers at the IFCA meeting in Colorado Springs this summer. I pray that some of you who so easily throw stones at Matt never experience the hard challenges Matt experienced.

Straight Ahead!

jt

 

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

E. Rogerson's picture

Thank you, Joel! As usual, a gracious, reasonable, helpful, and encouraging response. Needs to be a bit (read: significantly) more of that around here, methinks. As a Northland alum, I find this a bittersweet development, though the bitterness is fleeting. While saddened to see one fruitful season end, it is exciting that, as mentioned above, the tool in God's hands that was Northland is not dead, but simply being recommissioned. May God continue to do above and beyond what is imagined (or approved of) by any member of this forum.

One question for anyone in-the-know: What does this mean for the camp side of Northland?

mmartin's picture

Joel,

What facts have been twisted to say Olson intentionally meant to do harm?

From my perspective, too many people come across as if to say "Golly, what a bummer it didn't work out for Olson at NIU!  Shucks!  Well, we'll get 'em next time."

Remember, Olson was the one who publicly stated NIU was the same, it wasn't changing, etc., etc., when everyone could see that was not the case.  There were these public statements and then public requests for money to make ends meet.  You say Olson has stated regret over what happened.  OK, I'll take your word for it, but I've never heard anything about that.  However, after those public statements about NIU not changing, what about a public statement of "I'm sorry?"  If you want to publicly own the "We're OK" statement, shouldn't you also own a public "I'm sorry" statement?

My concern isn't this A, B, or Z type fundamentalism.  I know God does work outside of the IFB bubble, yes even in the SBC.  As for me, I'm not looking at this through any kind of fundy sub-culture lens.  Yes, NIU is a ministry, but ultimately it is a business so I'm looking at it from a business management perspective. 

Dr. Olson became president of NIU in 2002.  The economy didn't go in the tank until 2008 - SIX years later.  In 2005 the board raised concerned about the financial condition of NIU when its fund was $10M, yet in 2011-2012 NIU Lost over $2M and now by multiple accounts that money is gone.  All of this happened during Olson's tenure.  So, what exactly are we supposed to think?

In the non-ministry world excuses of "Don't blame me, it was the economy" in a situation like this does not fly.  You aren't paid to burn through that kind of money, alienate your core base, and bring confusion into a brand.

How many people and churches gave their time, effort, prayers, children, & sweat to lift up a place like NIU?  I know of a family that gave a large sum to NIU after receiving a death benefit from a death in their family.  They did so because they not only believed in the ministry, but in the leadership, and in the direction they believed it was going.  Yet, with nary an acknowledgement of that NIU said, "Thanks, but no thanks," and went another way.  Olson and NIU blew off the very people that allowed NIU to exist. 

Yet, you want people like me to stop spouting?

DavidO's picture

Schools like NIU closed because the traditional IFB demographic is declining, the economy is lousy, and their erstwhile friends, like Lou Martuneac, John Vaughn, and Don Johnson, were busy kicking them in the shins about all the 'apostacy' when the full extent of the problems became known.

Wait, Johnson, Vaughn, and Martuneac are to blame here?  Please.  

At the end of the day, a Christian College is a service organization, a business.  Northland followed the evolving convictions of its leadership (if in a ham-handed way under Olson), which is entirely appropriate, and simply alienated the vast majority of its customer base.  It's that simple.  It's great to say that people who think musical style matters are chasing unicorns, but if the dollars of unicorn chasers are keeping your doors open, well, do the math.  

Having said that, Daniel Patz seems to me to have done the wisest thing, and I am quite interested to see where the tale goes from here. 

Jim's picture

I'm with David O here ... they're not to blame. There was enough bizarro behavior there in the 2nd semester of last year to make real friends cringe (the Big Daddy Weave concert that was planned and assisted by rouge Northland workers).

In the grand scheme of things it was a bad business plan (poor location). It had it's glory days and flamed out. The gifting to SBTS is the silver lining. Current students (the apparently few of them) will graduate from a regionally accredited institution (Boyce) (at least the 2016 graduates - (possible strategy for existing students - delay graduation)).

I predict the camping side will flourish - a broader pool to draw from.

 

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

Whatever else can be said, your statement here . . .

In the non-ministry world excuses of "Don't blame me, it was the economy" in a situation like this does not fly.  You aren't paid to burn through that kind of money, alienate your core base, and bring confusion into a brand.

. . . is spot on. It couldn't be stated any better. I don't believe anyone here thinks malicious or hateful thoughts about Bro. Olson. I am sure he did what he thought was best, etc. etc. However, the fact remains that these excuses wouldn't be tolerated in the "real" world. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

Jim wrote:

I'm with David O here ... they're not to blame. There was enough bizarro behavior there in the 2nd semester of last year to make real friends cringe (the Big Daddy Weave concert that was planned and assisted by rouge Northland workers).

In the grand scheme of things it was a bad business plan (poor location). It had it's glory days and flamed out. The gifting to SBTS is the silver lining. Current students (the apparently few of them) will graduate from a regionally accredited institution (Boyce) (at least the 2016 graduates - (possible strategy for existing students - delay graduation)).

I predict the camping side will flourish - a broader pool to draw from.

In reverse order - I believe that the plan is to continue to utilize the camp and retreat center, based on an article I read last night.  My wife asked the same thing last night, but I honestly don't know.  I hope they continue to use it as the location is ideal for that.

Yes, the business plan probably wasn't good, but it's a little too late for that.

Yes, there was a lot of bizarro behavior in 2013, and I cringed at more than some of it.  I'll let John Vaughn off the hook, because he was reacting to this and it was unfair for me to pull his name into this.  I'm sorry for that. Don, however, was raising questions and insinuating worse about the school via the Proclaim and Defend blog as early as 2012.  Martuneac's pursuit of the great white whale of Northland began as early as 2010.  And while it is legitimate to discredit Martuneac's ramblings for several reasons, more than a few of my friends and NIU contacts reached out to me with concerns about NIU on the basis of his screeds.  So I won't, at all, back off of that one.  After all, if you run a Christian school down repeatedly for the span of two plus years on your blog, you will eventually damage the brand and the name of whatever institution you're hunting.  

And one last comment for mmartin, and then I move on since we clearly disagree.  MMartin said this:

Here is an additional link to public NIU financial information from the fiscal year 6/1/2011-5/31/2012 showing NIU lost $2.1M.  In ONE year it lost $2.1M.

http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/39-0977529/northland-mission.aspx(link is external)

Also, page 117 in Dr. Wood's dissertation states the $10M fund amount in a letter from the Endowment Fund Committee expressing concern over the diminishing amount of the principal of the fund.  They are concerned about the sustainability of the fund and NIU in general.  This letter is dated May 31, 2005.  See also pages 115-119.

Question:  In May 2005 if the Board is expressing concern over the declining balance of the fund, then what happened between then and 2011-2012 when in one year it lost $2.1M?  Did Dr. Olson ignore the board or the did the board change their mind?

Let me answer your question with a question: If NIU ran a significant loss in 2004 (as I know), and then another significant loss in 2005 (as you pointed out) and then they didn't do anything until 2012...why?  The primary responsibility of a nonprofit's governing board is to manage the overall and long term stability of the institution they are charged with.  I've worked in the NPO field for ten years.  That kind of mismanagement by the Board of an organization is rare.

Like I said earlier, it's easy and fun to kick Matt Olson around some.  But nobody wants to ask the hard questions of the men on the NIU Board of Directors from 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, which is where the ultimate blame goes.  After all, Matt served as President at their pleasure and request, and apparently they were angered enough to force him to resign at least once.  So why did they sit back and watch as NIU burned through the endowment without actually doing anything about it?  If they didn't know what was going on, then they were negligent and irresponsible in their duties, which I don't believe.  But if they did know and the school still closes, then it's a different story.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

DavidO's picture

Jay,

Martuneac was clearly an enemy of NIU given the trajectory it was on.  He seemed to me to be advocating for (and delighting in the prospect of) its closure.  That he actually did much damage seems unlikely to me.  Just my opinion.

But Don's questions do not seem in any way out of bounds to me, given his separatist commitments and those of the FBFI.  And this is my point.  FBFI type people, by and large, were the constituency.  NIU was never going to be able to keep that support base and continue in the direction it was going.  It just wasn't.

Northland is the one who left the reservation (so to speak).  Neither they nor you get to point the finger of blame at the unhappy natives.

dgszweda's picture

I agree it is easy to kick Matt around.  Whether Matt is to blame or not, at the end of the day Matt served as the day to day operating executive of the board.  If he was going down the wrong route or not the right person, it is the responsibility of the board to make changes.  This is simple Board Governance 101.  Matt could only do what he did, because he had the blessing of the board.  The board at any time had full autonomy to remove the president as they deemed fit.  The board members should not hide behind the president.

Unfortunately what you find in boards that are religious oriented is that they tend to gloss over Board Governance practices with the desire to "grow" an individual, or to not "step on toes", and they are often ill equipped, ill trained, or don't understand solid governance frameworks.  They are often picked because they were a good pastor, good camp director, good evangelist... (which does not make a good board member)  But to be honest many public boards aren't good at this either (i.e. Enron).  As having served on both boards for religious institutions and public companies, I am flabbergasted at how poorly boards perform.  Unfortunately religious institutions have quasi-boards because there is often little oversight of the board.

Jim's picture

  • Thank the Lord for the Patz family and their investment
  • Thank the Lord for Les O and Matt O and the other faithful servants there
  • Thank the Lord for the students who attended, many of whom are in full time vocational service
  • Thank the Lord for SBTS for rescuing the situation and taking ownership (with the attendant risk)

The Northland campus has a future! To God be the glory!

Pages