50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2019

Oral Roberts University: From Good to Great; Creating One of the Nation’s Smartest University Models


“ORU is more than a teaching place; it is a place of learning and transformation that develops Holy-Spirit empowered leaders through whole person education to impact the world.”

University education is more than the next level in the learning process; it is a critical component of human development worldwide. It provides not only the high-level skills necessary for every labor market but also the training essential for many professionals and a myriad of other personnel. Education with a touch of ethics, beliefs, and moral values will lead these trained individuals to develop the capacity and analytical skills that drive local economies, support civil societies, teach children, lead effective governments, and make important decisions which bring transformation across entire societies. An educated populace is vital in today’s world, with the convergent impacts of globalization, the increasing importance of knowledge as a main driver of growth, and the information and communication revolution.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Oral Roberts University (ORU).

ORU is creating a sensation in the field of the education system. The institution has established a strong international presence and is set to spread its influence through the educational field with unique and distinctive ways of operation. The journey has not been comfortable, but it has been worth it, inspiring staff and students alike.

Oral Roberts University:  Synopsis

Challenges Encountered in the Initial Stages

ORU needed an intelligent and shared vision that aligned all stakeholders with an opportunity, as well as a need to help them visualize the world differently than they had in the past. The deeply interconnected world, with its mega-shifting demographics and economics, demanded a more intentional, multidimensional, and globally focused extension of ORU’s mission and outreach. Its mission statement is to develop Spirit-empowered leaders and send them to the “uttermost bounds of the earth” and into “every person’s world” through whole-person education. The start might have been difficult. However, ORU’s passion for doing good work in peoples’ lives encouraged it to overcome every struggle and create a dynamic impact leaving trails of success stories along the way.

Several steps were pursued to build a culture of excellence including:

  • Sustaining a balanced, university-wide governance structure
  • Developing the first rolling five-year adaptive plan
  • Creating a financial model that would be viable, believable, and achievable while also creating the most extensive capital campaign in ORU history.
  • Creating diversification in the field of education

ORU is a unique educational institution that promotes what it terms “whole-person education,” resulting in dynamic spiritual growth, academic excellence, physical fitness, social skills, and professional competence. The institution is more than a teaching place; it is a place of learning and transformation that develops Holy-Spirit empowered leaders through whole person education to impact the world, as mentioned above. Professors are more than educators at ORU; they are also mentors and coaches who are expected to model an entire person lifestyle. Education at ORU is designed to develop in its students a Christian worldview and Christ-like character in an ethos of Spirit empowerment. The Spirit-empowered movement is the fastest-growing religious movement on earth, growing twice as fast as the world’s population. This expanding global audience is ORU’s core constituency.

Unique Commitment to Service Excellence

  • Over $30M contributed to debt-free 2019 summer capital improvement projects.
  • ORU graduates earn an average of $2.0 million more than individuals without a four-year degree.
  • ORU has placed 4th in the nation for student engagement in the 2019 Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings.
  • S. News and World Report have ranked Oral Roberts University as the number one ‘Best Value School’ and a ‘Best in the West’ in its Regional College rankings.
  • ORU placed 99.4% of all students in the workforce or a graduate program in 2018.
  • ORU placed 100% of all international students in the workforce or graduate program in 2018.

The Galvanizing Aspects of ORU

ORU has embarked on a journey that has propelled the university into the future in a vibrant, fresh, and correct manner. Important future factors for ORU will include:

  • Love and challenge its students to become world leaders.
  • Sustain its proven and balanced governance structure.
  • Instill, grow, and measure a culture of excellence.
  • Motivate and encourage the campus faculty and staff with a shared vision and goals that are both achievable and a stretch.

Future Intent

ORU’s Impact 2030 vision will continue to focus on the shifts and trends of a global world as the university goes from serving students in 114 nations to 195 nations. ORU plans on taking advantage of the Titan supercomputer led by the Chair of the Computing and Mathematics Department, Dr. Andy Lang, and Dr. Stephen Wheat who are both world class faculty that have achieved unprecedented research on education and GIS data sets to help both education and industry.

The market demand for education has never been higher than in today’s knowledge-based economy. ORU’s Impact 2030 adaptive plan calls for:

  • Developing whole leaders for the whole world,
  • Achieving exceptional teaching, innovation, and academic excellence,
  • Educating learners from every nation,
  • Demonstrating a vibrant Spirit-empowered ethos that impacts the world,
  • Growing a strong and expanded Tulsa campus,
  • Using new technologies in creative and transformative ways,
  • Thriving with financial vitality.

Dr. William M. Wilson: The Ardent Visionary Behind the Triumph of Oral Roberts University

Dr. William M. Wilson serves as the President of Oral Roberts University. Before his election as President of Oral Roberts University, Wilson served as vice-chair of the ORU Board of Trustees. Wilson has served several years in executive leadership in two denominations, and recently he served as the executive director for the International Center for Spiritual Renewal in Cleveland, Tennessee, and the chair and executive director of a global church resourcing initiative called Empowered21. In addition, Wilson serves on various boards and committees, including the current Chair of the Pentecostal World Fellowship, Mission America Coalition (Lausanne USA) Facilitation Committee, the Board for the National Association of Evangelicals and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Mr. William also attended the Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, Tennessee, where he earned his Master of Arts and Doctor of Ministry degrees.

“ORU’s passion for developing Holy Spirit-empowered leaders encouraged them to overcome every struggle and create a dynamic impact leaving a trail of success stories along the way.”