Grace Community Church, John MacArthur, Master's University / Master's Seminary

John MacArthur Steps Down as President of The Master’s University

John MacArthur, The Master’s University, Accreditation Probation

Screenshot 2018-10-28 at 9.30.51 AM

-by Kathi

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.

11 thoughts on “John MacArthur Steps Down as President of The Master’s University”

  1. Positions of power. How does he hear the servant voice of God? Two full time power positions; church and educational institution. How was/is he able to brainwash people for so long that his dual powership is in the best interest of congregation or students.

    Certainly has never seemed like a God centered heart/brain mentality to me. Once again, the underlings and students get the brunt, feel it daily. MacArthur just keeps his power, just moves to a new 2nd penthouse office.

    So remind me, where is God in this?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too am somewhat uneasy about this, and with Kathi agree that when accreditation is on probation (my expertise is with ISO 9000 accreditation, it’s similar), it’s time for an institution to really take a look at big changes that need to be made. This appears to be more of an ordinary transition of power and authority, and I hope that more is being done behind the scenes. Otherwise the outlook is probably grim for them, sad to say.


  3. This is a very serious matter. It seems that the board response is going to send the wrong message to the accreditation team. I think the university is trying to still make MacArthur the figurehead of the institution, but comply in letter to the issues raised, since his leadership seems to be their core concern.

    That said, they have two years to comply or lose their accreditation, and this will be tricky. They can meet all the technical concerns and lose their accreditation if the faculty don’t play nice, and I think that will be the make or break issue. Unfortunately, the administration could subtly threaten the faculty by suggesting that a loss of accreditation could force them to severely cut back their programs and thus lay off professors. That puts the faculty in a situation where they either shut up about the abuse and keep their jobs, or complain and risk losing them.

    The other possibility is that they may thumb their nose at the accreditation board. I think Christian colleges are more likely to survive this because they can smear the heathen accreditation boards, and claim that they were martyred in the name of “staying true to their mission”. Which, generally, is hogwash, because, as you can see, the report is showing clear nepotism and abuse, not making claims about what they are teaching. But…. even though the report is a public document, people aren’t necessary going to check the truth, but will instead believe a what trusted people tell them.

    I’m not sure whether the accreditation board will agree that their move is sufficient. Here’s how this will probably play out. The board has significant conflicts of interest because many are employed by MacArthur. Now, MacArthur is not the President, but the Chancellor. However, those board members, although they won’t report to the President, they will still report to MacArthur. My experience was that the President could not hire or fire any top-level executives without board approval. So, whatever new President they bring in will quickly learn that he is MacArthur’s lap dog, even though he has the title. Even though he “officially” has the CEO role, he knows that he cannot fire MacArthur, and he knows that if he crosses MacArthur that the board will find a new lap dog. I’m guessing the accreditors will not find this a valid solution.


  4. I just realized that the link to the letter isn’t working. I’ll fix it. If you click on the link to their accreditation status you can find the letter.


  5. Sandy –

    It’s possible that the Commission addressed these issues, though it lacks targeting specific situations. The letter does address the University’s lack of attention to the Clery Act and VAWA.

    “Additionally, as a result of inquiry by the visiting team and panel prompted by Third Party Complaints to the Commission, the Commission is concerned about the institution’s attention to the requirements of the Clery Act and the Violence Against
    Women’s Act (VAWA). The Commission is concerned about the capacity of the institution’s leadership to operate with integrity, high performance, appropriate responsibility, and accountability. (CFRs 3.6, 3.7)”

    The Clery Act: “The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is a federal statute requiring colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information. The U.S. Department of Education conducts reviews to evaluate an institution’s compliance with the Clery Act requirements.”

    VAWA: “The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) amendments to the Clery Act expand the rights afforded to campus survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.”

    Thank you for raising this question! This is a good catch.


  6. @Celeste:

    Certainly has never seemed like a God centered heart/brain mentality to me. Once again, the underlings and students get the brunt, feel it daily. MacArthur just keeps his power, just moves to a new 2nd penthouse office.

    So remind me, where is God in this?

    Helping those who help themselves?
    (That’s what stunts like this look like if you haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid…)


  7. Well, Southwestern Seminary just went through a similar horrible incident. The President was fired in the end. The stories parallel.


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