Researcher compares assets and enrollment of major fundamentalist educational institutions

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PLewis's picture

I have to say - there's certainly a number of bloggers out there who are doing their best to "uncover" Bob Jones University ... (read uncover as discredit). I have to wonder how in the world there can be so much bitterness ... It's said I think. I read these blogs and think to my time there. One in particular is interesting as the blogger was there when I was .. tho' he was a few years behind me. His take .. memories and mine are SO different.

Don't have much to comment on the particular one .. finances have for me always been a muddle .. BUT when I see in his news feed other blogs that are SO NASTY .. I have to wonder as to the intent of this one..

Jonathan Charles's picture

How did he get the info on the total assets of the various schools? I assume these schools have to file a 990, or in the case of BJU, maybe something different. Did he ask for and get access to these?

Dave Doran's picture

First, a question: On what basis is this being described as the work of a "researcher"? That seems like an official title, but I have not been able to find any qualifications or bio info on Karl Nashorn at the site. If you have additional info, please share.

Two comments:
1. I appreciate the fact that the admission is made on the site that "all data used by BJUnumbers have been painstakingly researched, although the resulting opinions have not." That last part is very important to note since that should be factored into the evaluation of the site. Further, it should also remind us that data is usually also selected on the basis of opinions. IOW, he is not giving all of the information, but the information that serves the point he is making. I don't mean anything sinister by that comment; it is just the way news is reported these days. That makes it very important for readers to assess the bias that might affect the selection of data presented and the opinions which are offered. Think back to the University of Anglea reports on global warming.
2. I am not an accountant, so I clearly do not want to pose as an expert here, but it doesn't take long looking at the numbers to know that he has given, in a few cases, a false impression by the use of numbers which are not necessarily relevant to his point. For instance, without more information it seems very unwise to draw the inferences he has about investment return. As I said, I'm only a pastor, but I do pastor a church with significant resources and look at numbers in that category regularly. There is a lot more that needs to be known than he has provided before anybody could draw firm conclusions about the issue.

I'm all for the light of day, but this site doesn't bring the light of day. It may be simply setting up a light of its own to shine on the information that it has purposely chosen in order to create the hue it desires.

DMD

KevinM's picture

I'll bet my friends in Ankeny (who tend to fly under the fundy radar) are happy to be ignored on this list of "major fundamentalist institutions."

I agree with Dave D--my personal preference is toward complete transparency among institutions (after ally, they're church- and parent- funded). But we have yet to reach full disclosure. This is more like a selective outing.

I wonder where our schools stand on the matter of ECFA membership?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

In our desire to be 'blameless and harmless', I think the methods that 'researchers' employ to critique Christian institutions should be considered. That info is out there for anyone to aggregate and present in any way they choose. It is more important than ever for us to think about our methodologies, financially, spiritually, ethically...

Jonathan Charles's picture

I can't read the chart well, but it looks like BJU has assets of 131m and Pensacola of 311m while Liberty has assets in the 400'sm. I have been on the campuses of both schools, and I can't see where Pensacola's physical assets are more than double BJU. I wonder if valuing such assets isn't a big guessing game, some may be conservative and others rather generous in assessing the value of buildings. But, maybe Pensacola has 100m+ in the bank.

Jim's picture

You asked

Quote:
First, a question: On what basis is this being described as the work of a "researcher"? That seems like an official title, but I have not been able to find any qualifications or bio info on Karl Nashorn at the site. If you have additional info, please share.

I'm responsible for the filing title. I used "researcher" as "one who researches". Not as an official title.

I have emailed back and forth with Karl (about how he did his research)

Strikes me that for this particular posting, that the research was fairly straightforward: Look at a 990 and get the gross asset value ... and dig up the enrollment

JeremyM's picture

First of all, if you look carefully at the graphs, you'll see that they are misleading. It's like the East Anglia and the hockey stick graph. Basically, to evaluate these numbers fairly, you've got to punch them into Excel for yourself and do the graph function in order to get the right perspective. That's something I'm working on when I get the time this week.

Secondly, if you look at the point of the endowment and investing data, it's clear that he's trying to make a point. That's the problem. If he just gave us the data, then I wouldn't even feel the need to have a point to the data.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

KevinM wrote:
I'll bet my friends in Ankeny (who tend to fly under the fundy radar) are happy to be ignored on this list of "major fundamentalist institutions."

Yes, Kevin, but happy or not, I am always somewhat puzzled that Faith -- one of the oldest fundamentalist schools in the nation -- is omitted from such discussions.
I was just thinking the other day how there has been virtually no news about Faith to come out since the discussions ended on the potential merger with Central, which received tons of publicity from the whole thing -- whether that is good or bad... H:)

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
I wonder where our schools stand on the matter of ECFA membership?

I might be wrong but I only saw Cornerstone, Crossroads Bible, Baptist Bible College of PA, and Calvary Bible College and Seminary of KC. on their web page that have fundamentalist ties. Of course Cornerstone is more conservative evangelical, but they still are connected with alot of West Michigan GARBC churches.....

Barry L.'s picture

One needs to be careful in evaluating asset numbers on 990's and college financial statements. Assets are recorded at cost, meaning they are recorded at the original purchase price or construction cost. The older the institutions could have the same real property "value", yet have a lower number on their financials because the property was purchased or constructed many years ago.

Dan Pelletier's picture

Obviously, from the postings linked to these charts and financial figures, the "researcher" has a bone to pick with Bob Jones University for something that happened to him close to 30 years ago.

Proverbs 22:24-25 leads me to suspect anything he posts.

Dan Pelletier
Hamilton Square Baptist Church - San Francisco
Acts 20:24 - Touch the Future with Truth from the Past

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The information can be accurate regardless of the author's motives. What is good is that perspectives such as Bro. Doran's and Bro. Barry's bring more light to how this information is being spun and other factors that affect how it should be interpreted.

Dan Pelletier's picture

Jim,

I may not have been clear. I am not accusing you as the poster of the information on Sharper Iron of having a bone to pick with BJU.

But, I did read some of Karl Nashorn's postings. He admits to being expelled from the school, and doesn't appear to be happy about that. It obviously must bother him or he would have just moved on and let it go. Why go to all the trouble to dig up these statistics if it no longer matters to him?

My point is that everyone who posts statistics has a purpose for posting those statistics. Before posting something like this for the world to see through the Sharper Iron forum, I believe that it is in the best interest of those who love God and His people to know for sure that the desire is to help rather than to hurt.

Dan Pelletier
Hamilton Square Baptist Church - San Francisco
Acts 20:24 - Touch the Future with Truth from the Past

JeremyM's picture

Dan Pelletier wrote:
Obviously, from the postings linked to these charts and financial figures, the "researcher" has a bone to pick with Bob Jones University for something that happened to him close to 30 years ago.

Proverbs 22:24-25 leads me to suspect anything he posts.

Dan, I agree. This is "angry data" (to coin a phrase). I would refuse to "learn his ways lest it snare my soul," except I feel someone needs to redo the graphs. We can take the data and spin it the other way around, because it's all just facts that need to be reinterpreted. If you go and punch in all the figures into Excel, you can make the graphs look entirely different. You might be quicker at getting the graphs uploaded than I, and if you beat me to it, that would be fine. But as Dr. Doran pointed out above, the whole thing with the East Anglia University graphs on global warming is suspiciously similar.

One thing I don't know is what happened to Karl 30 years ago. I would be interested in hearing that, since I don't know anything more about Karl. For all I know, "being born" was the bad thing that happened 30 years ago ;-). I think we would all benefit from hearing more of your perspective on Karl's interactions with you and/or BJU. This is information I could use, to be sure.

PLewis's picture

Dan Pelletier wrote:
Obviously, from the postings linked to these charts and financial figures, the "researcher" has a bone to pick with Bob Jones University for something that happened to him close to 30 years ago.

Proverbs 22:24-25 leads me to suspect anything he posts.

I think you may have him confused with a link to ANOTHER blogger .. the Hidalgo guy ..

But that in a way was the point I was making - why link to him unless there are similar feelings?

I REALLY don't understand the concept of blogs that defame institutions ... usually when you read through them it ends up that that while people FEEL they were treated "unfairly" .. they brought the situations on themselves.. (This has NOTHING to do with the financial blogger - as he doesn't give ANY background about himself.. another bugaboo of mine about blogs .. laugh.. LACK of information regarding the blogger)

Jim's picture

**** Forum Director Comment ******

Dan Pelletier wrote:
I did read some of Karl Nashorn's postings. He admits to being expelled from the school, and doesn't appear to be happy about that.

Please specifically substantiate this by providing a link to Karl Nashor's blog post. I've carefully gone though his blog and I haven't found it

JeremyM's picture

Dan Pelletier wrote:
a bone to pick with Bob Jones University for something that happened to him close to 30 years ago.

Proverbs 22:24-25 leads me to suspect anything he posts.

That's the part I'm looking for too. At first I thought I was having a little problem navigating the site, but then I figured Pastor Pelletier must have known Karl at BJU. That's what I was referring to when I was asking for the additional information.

Jim's picture

**** Forum Director Directive *****

Either Dan has to substantiate his claim (And I have PM'd him)

OR

You can contact the BJU Numbers guy here

Quote:
Readers may contact the author at bjunumbers AT gmail DOT com.

(I have personally contacted him, by the way! The moderators and admins have seen his response)

AllenS's picture

As an accountant, I agree with Dr. Doran on the numbers. You cannot run income statements side by side and make adequate pronouncements. You would have to examine whether the investments (at cost) were similar from year to year to make a true comparison. For all we know, they sold out of most of these investments and lost money on a small investment pool rather than losing over 6 million dollars in investments. All we can tell from the post is that investment revenue made up a smaller (acutally negative) percentage of the total revenue pie.

In addition, US tax-exempt investors do not have to file on income that is earned in off-shore investments. A hedge fund I worked on previously had several billion dollars of investments from tax-exempt universities in its off-shore fund. Does this post account for this?

Also, revenue alone does not tell the whole picture. A better analysis would be cash flows and cost analysis. These actually tell whether there is a true problem.

Now I have only glanced over the financials he posted, but unless I missed something, I think many of the pronouncements are premature.

JeremyM's picture

I confronted Karl on his site about Pastor Pelletier's accusations. Karl confirms what Mr. Peet said above. I apologize to Karl and Mr. Peet for the way I handled it. Pastor Pelletier and I seemed to be doing what we were accusing Karl of doing.

In the spirit of Biblical principle, I rebound the accusations to Pastor Pelletier, and ask if it was his bitterness that led him to jump to conclusions about Karl.

Dave Doran's picture

Just to push my point, confirmed and shared by others here, a little farther...

In terms of telling what that site is about, the selection of information and the way in which that information is being framed are more significant than the numbers themselves. Why those numbers? Why frame them as he has? Why does he think this is important at this particular time? Add the fact that he has made a deliberate effort to draw attention to two agenda-driven sites does not suggest a neutral quest for and dissemination of information.

If this guy wants to spend his time doing this, so be it. If people read it and think it is some kind of objective, neutral zone of information, that's sad. That this was chosen as newsworthy and something to be brought to the attention of people, that's disappointing.

DMD

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