Adviser at Oral Roberts resigns after student paper publishes false information

OKLAHOMA — Misinformation has cost the student newspaper faculty adviser at Oral Roberts University his job.

On Wednesday, The Oracle published the name of an individual they expected to be announced that day as the school’s new president in an online article. That information was incorrect, according to reports in The Tulsa World.

The article was posted just before an event at which the small private school was slated to make its official announcement, and it was taken down shortly after the paper learned it was mistaken, the World reported.

Shortly after, adviser Kevin Armstrong resigned. In a statement provided to the World, Armstrong wrote that, “Out of respect for the university that I will always love, and for my family’s well-being, I have resigned from the university on amicable terms and will have no further comment.”

Laura Holland, the chairwoman of the school’s communication, arts and media department, said Friday that Armstrong resigned.

“We have no comment but to say that Kevin resigned,” Holland said, referring other questions to the school’s media relations office who could not be reached. Armstrong could not be reached, either.

University President Dr. Mark Rutland posted a tweet on Thursday that read, “Most painful decision of leaders/releasing an employee. 3 reasons.1)repeated offenses2) unteachable3)they embarrass or endanger your company” [sic].

It’s not clear if Rutland is referring to Armstrong or another employee. According to the World, Rutland sharply criticized the paper’s mistake in the chapel service where the new president was expected to be announced.

Oracle Editor-in-Chief Amy Lecza declined to speak but said in an email that she was “very upset” about what had happened. She said her staff plans to move forward, keeping in mind the lessons they learned from Armstrong.

“This has been a hard time for all of us, and I’m very proud of the way the Oracle staff members have handled themselves,” Lecza wrote. “Mr. Armstrong’s industry knowledge, wisdom, compassion and the manner in which he constantly lived out the mission of ORU will be greatly missed.”

Numerous students at Oral Roberts openly expressed their disgust with the situation on Twitter and remembered Armstrong for his passionate teaching.

Holland said the newspaper would continue publishing and that she was already in the process of finding a replacement for Armstrong.

By Sara Tirrito, SPLC staff writer. Contact Tirrito by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext . 124.