John MacArthur Comments on Transition to Chancellor of The Master’s University

Out today:

Statement from John MacArthur
October 22, 2018

For 33 years, since 1985, I have had the rare and enriching privilege of serving The Master’s University and Seminary as president.

I originally signed up for 5 years, thinking I would be able — along with my pastoral ministry at Grace Community Church — to help strengthen the University and Seminary. I underestimated the hold that educating young Christians for gospel influence on the world would have on me.

Class after class, year after year, as new students arrived, I found it impossible to let go of the opportunity to educate their minds and hearts to take the Light of God’s truth into this dark world. So, I have stayed and loved every day of my service.

However, with the growth of the University and Seminary, demanding more leadership now and in the future, the time has come for me to transition to the position of Chancellor of the University and President of the Seminary.

The transition will provide for a new president for the university. This will occur over the next 18 months.

I rejoice in the 91-year impact of this institution, because of its faithfulness to the Bible, to the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and His beloved church.

I am confident of the continuing influence of these schools for the kingdom of our Lord and I look forward to continuing to serve The Master’s University and Seminary in the years ahead.

The Master’s University Board Responds to Accreditation Charges

On the school website, the board of The Master’s University responded to the probation imposed by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The letter was sent to faculty and staff this morning by John Stead, the provost of the college.

You can read the letter. Here is the closing:

In addition, since receiving the report, the full Board has met on three separate occasions to discuss the findings and requirements in the Final Commission Letter and to develop a definitive action plan. As a result of many hours of discussion and planning, including the tireless work of smaller groups and committees, we have made significant progress.

Working with the administration, faculty, and staff, we have created a comprehensive plan—a thorough set of specific action steps to address every concern WSCUC has raised. To ensure that these steps are implemented, we have assigned all of them to specific staff or members of the Board. We have also laid out a clear timeline in order to demonstrate to the Commission that we are making real progress toward meeting or exceeding their recommendations. The Board will thoroughly assess our institutional progress in implementing this plan at our October
meeting.

It is our hope that our resolute response will allay concerns among our University and Seminary family. We recognize the crucial importance of this issue to all our students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and ministry support partners.

My reaction is that keeping the plan private appears to cut the faculty out of the process. While it may be typical at small schools not to involve or inform faculty, that seems to be part of what the WASC report raised as a concern. I don’t know how hearing that a plan is in the works but not knowing any of the specifics could allay concerns.

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Image: The Master’s University, by Lukasinla [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons 

Santa Clarita Signal Calls for Changes at The Master’s University

Recently, John MacArthur’s The Master’s University was put on probationary status by The Western Association of Schools and Colleges – the regional group which accredits TMU.  Among other concerns, WASC cited a “climate of fear, intimidation, bullying, and uncertainty among significant numbers of faculty and staff” at the Santa Clarita, CA school.

Now the Santa Clarita newspaper –The Signal — is calling for changes at the school. In an editorial published last Sunday, the editorial board summarized the WASC report and called on the school to take the recommendations seriously. However, the editorial board opined that “there are hints surfacing that indicate those at the top are playing the role of victim” and added:

For example, TMU President John MacArthur, reportedly speaking before a group of Master’s Seminary students last weekend, portrayed the sanctions as an attack on the university and on him personally.

“These are the best of times for us, and we know that because the enemy is working so hard,” he told the group, according to a recording posted online. In the recording, the speaker characterizes it as “a rather orchestrated attack, if not by any human source, then certainly by Satan himself. There was an attack directly on me. And it came in all kinds of forms.”

The op-ed concludes with this admonition:

It’s going to take some major changes to restore faith in TMU and its leadership. Hopefully the right people are willing to look in the mirror and see that TMU’s problems are not the work of the devil, but of human beings.

The Two Faces of TMU

There is a contradiction between MacArthur’s story and what has been told to the press. In a Christian Post article on the subject, the TMU spokesman never refers to Satan. Yet, to his students, MacArthur downplayed the charges and blamed the Prince of Darkness. In light of these mixed messages, it is understandable that the outside observers would question TMU’s leadership.

 

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Image: The Master’s University, by Lukasinla [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons 

About The Master’s University #1 Right Choice Ranking

Yesterday, Dee Parsons from Wartburg Watch tweeted a question about the The Master’s University’s claim that the school was ranked as a #1 “right choice” school by the Wall Street Journal. Here’s what The Master’s University said about their rating by the WSJ in 2016.

In the September 29 edition of The Wall Street Journal, The Master’s University was ranked #1 for being the “right choice” of institutions rated among the nation’s 4,000 colleges and universities.

Congratulations to President John MacArthur and the faculty and staff of The Master’s University for your exemplary work. And to the students and their families, congratulations on choosing TMU and making the “right choice.”

In 2017, TMU proclaimed:

the Wall Street Journal recently recognized TMU as #1 Right Choice University amongst all U.S. colleges/universities for the 2nd year in a row

In Medium, TMU wrote this:

The Wall Street Journal has ranked TMU number 1 in the country for two years in a row as the top “right choice” university.

Indeed the WSJ did mention TMU in 2016 and 2017 but the ranking was more of a rating by the students. WSJ asked 100,000 students a series of questions about their college including “if you could start over, would you still choose this college?” On that question, TMU students gave their school ratings higher than students at any other school. Lancaster (PA) Bible College ranked second on that question. LBC’s write up about the survey more clearly explains the significance of the rating.

The Wall Street Journal surveyed students and asked them a series of questions to determine each institutions ranking. For the Right Choice category, students were asked, “If you could start over, would you still choose this college?” LBC earned a score of 9.46 out of 10.

The WSJ articles are behind a paywall but the 2017 article on the college rankings described the category as students’ response to being asked “if they would choose their school again.” According to the WSJ,

The Master‘s University, a small Christian liberal-arts school in Santa Clarita, Calif., topped all comers in that category, despite not cracking the top 500 schools in the overall ranking.

In a related article, the WSJ said,

The survey also asked students three questions that weren’t taken into consideration in the rankings, including whether students would choose their school again. Highest marks again went to schools with a religious affiliation, including The Master’s University in Santa Clara, Calif., Lancaster Bible College and Brigham Young, Hawaii.

Obviously, TMU’s students believe they made the right choice, so I don’t mean to take anything away from TMU. However, there is a difference between WSJ ranking a school and students rating a school via a survey. When TMU portrays an average score on a student rating as a merit-based ranking by the WSJ, there is potential for their audience to be misled.

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Image: The Master’s University, by Lukasinla [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons 

The Master’s University Placed on Probation by Regional Accrediting Organization

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges has placed The Master’s University on probation, citing a “climate of fear, intimidation, bullying, and uncertainty among significant numbers of faculty and staff” among many other concerns.  Grace to You preacher John MacArthur is also the current president of TMU.

Read the letter outlining the action steps required for TMU

The school must address issues in four broad areas to maintain accreditation. These concerns include board independence, personnel and management practice, operational integrity and leadership. Specifically, the action letter from the WASC says “The institution does not meet the WSCUC requirement for governing board independence since many members of the Board are employed by the institution or another organization for which the president has authority.” When board members report to the president in another capacity, they cannot truly supervise the president or carry out their fiduciary responsibility as board members.

Of particular concern is a finding of conflict of interest involving president’s son-in-law Kory Welch who functions as an administrator. According to the action letter, this individual oversees contracts which have gone to friends and relatives.

There is also mixing of staff and payments between MacArthur’s ministry Grace to You and TMU. For instance, on the 2015 990 form for Grace to You, MacArthur’s son-in-law Kory Welch’s businesses were awarded nearly $790,000 for contract work.

According to the report, the conflict of interest had been known for six months without any action. This was not acceptable to the accrediting commission and they recommended the school seek legal counsel to “insure resolution of all reported conflicts of interest.” (p. 44 of the report)

The school has two years to remedy these matters. The WASC will send a team back to the school in November of this year to check on progress.

TMU Action Letter

TMU Accreditation Report

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Image: The Master’s University, by Lukasinla [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons