A conversation on the campus of Northwest Nazarene University is less about graduation lately and more about what happened to faculty member Thomas Oord.
This morning's Idaho Press-Tribune reports
that university officials refuse to confirm that Oord was let go, but did say that six layoffs were part of recent budget cuts. Meanwhile, a Facebook page—"Support Tom Oord"
—has already picked up 1,300 followers who have a laundry list of questions following the dismissal of the theologian and systematics professor. Supporters say that Oord has been regularly challenged by NNU officials to "respond to questions about this theology in order to stay in good standing with the church," faced a possible heresy trial in the summer of 2014, and was fired in spite of being a tenured professor.
“He cared so deeply for us as students,” Phil Michaels, associate pastor of the Durand (Mich.) Church of the Nazarene told the Press-Tribune
. “It was like he said ‘I will teach you some information to form us and prepare us for our lives.’ He definitely holds some of what are controversial views. He doesn’t push his views, though."
Meanwhile, supporters said they've started a GoFundMe account to raise awareness of their plight and plan on wearing T-shirts with a quote attributed to Oord: "I plan to live a life of love."
And just this morning, a letter from Randy Craker, the Chair of the NNU Board of Trustees, was addressed to university employees:
As Chair of the Board of Trustees, I pledge to you that the board will give careful attention to the input received. Your voice has been heard. There are valuable lessons for all of us to learn. But my purpose for writing today is to clarify where I believe we are, and to urge us forward.
We are in a place where decisions have been made, policy has been followed, and now we must find ways to live into the new reality. Those steps must be taken by all. I commit to work with our president and the board to ensure our future. I invite the campus community to work redemptively with us.