John MacArthur, The Master’s University, Accreditation Probation
John MacArthur, Pastor at Grace Community Church and President of The Master’s University, recently announced that he is stepping down as President of The Master’s University (TMU). This will be an 18-month transition.
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.
MacArthur makes this decision sound like it is simply time for new leadership due to the growth of the university. I have to question this since TMUs accreditation status is currently on probation due to issues which include the role of the President and other leadership within the institution.
During the years that I worked at Hope International University, I assisted in the process of accreditation visits. It was a rigorous process which required hours of meetings, reports, interviews, and review. If a university is functioning properly, there should be no problem with maintaining accreditation. Commissions will always provide feedback on areas that a university should address to maintain compliance.
The WASC Commission letter was very telling about how TMU is currently functioning. The letter states the issues that TMU needs to address, specifically around the office of the President:
Board Independence: 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.
Operational integrity: The institution’s 2017 financial audit contains a specific finding on appearance of conflicts of interest with the President’s son-in-law supervising a contract from which he benefits, as well as institutional aid that exceeds typical aid awards being awarded to friends and relatives.
Leadership: The institution is not in compliance with the requirement in CFR 3.8
regarding the Chief Executive Officer.
The Commission is expecting the University to address the following issues involving the office of the President:
The Board should immediately review the WSCUC Independent Governing Board Policy and conform its composition and actions to achieve compliance (CFRs 3.7, 3.9, and Independent Governing Board Policy)
The Board should ensure that the President and his leadership team and those in their span of control follow institutional policy in personnel decisions and require regular reporting on staff and faculty transitions and evaluations, with note of the importance of honoring the Whistleblower Act and related policy in the Employee Handbook. This should include an independent review of all faculty and staff departures over the last three years. (CFRs 1.6, 1.7, 3.2, 3.6, 3.7, 3.9)
The institution should implement practices to insure the resolution of all reported
conflicts of interest. (CFRs 3.6, 3.7)
The institution should ensure that the President (CEO) is a full-time role and that the
Board responsibly monitors compliance with this standard. (CFR 3.8).
All leaders at the director through executive level should be familiar with professional standards and practices and able to assure that the institution satisfies regulatory requirements. (CFRs 1.3, 1.6, 1.8, 3.6, 3.7)
These are not the only issues TMU must address. The Commission also noted lack of governmental regulation understanding, and reports of hostile work environment by faculty and staff.
MacArthur’s statement lacks addressing the issues that the WASC Commission found in regard to his position as President. I think WASC’s concerns of a hostile work environment, conflicts of interest, and MacArthur’s inability to devote full-time attention in his role as President is what led to this decision. His stepping down is one way to address at least one area of the Commission’s compliance concerns.
However, I do question if his stepping down as President will address the concerns of a hostile work environment and conflict of interest. MacArthur will be moving into a position as Chancellor of the University and President of the Seminary, thereby maintaining a position of power at TMU. When future WASC Commission visits are held at TMU, it will be interesting to see if today’s concerns are resolved or if they continue.