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Broken Promise (Guest Post)

(by a guest writer)

Dear Sharon,

Please don’t use my name.

It’s more than sad that we have to be so secretive with our names about something so publicly wrong.

This “Promise” was broadcast to hundreds of churches via special visits, appearances, letters and even a video was made to be passed around churches begging for money and promising to the world that if all else failed, BJU would not “forsake their own when they [were] old.”

It was no secret. It was a promise to everyone who gave money-not just to the faculty/staff who were to receive it. It’s a broken promise to the many faithful BJU patrons who gave their hard-earned money to something they believed would be carried out.

Let’s get real: graduates of BJU (I’m one, my husband is one, my best friends are, my siblings, etc) don’t love or even like BJU for its rules, its pretty landscaping, its Bible Conferences or its deans of Men, Women or Students.

But, even if you’re outright embarrassed to tell people where you graduated from, you have a soft spot somewhere for some teacher in your field who cared about you and/or really knew his subject matter well and passed along valuable educational knowledge for you to use for the rest of your life and/or career.

It was the teachers (and not just any of them-the good ones; the ones with degrees from accredited schools elsewhere, the ones with decades of experience) that give BJU any value whatsoever.

The Promise dried up, but BJU has managed to build a stadium, a parking garage, re-do the entire front entrance, now the dining common (the list goes on) but no one felt a need to ask for help with the most important piece of the entire puzzle . . . the faculty?

I have immediate family members who are directly affected by this broken promise. I’ve done my homework. I’ve written letters/emails until my fingers were blue to board members, administrators, graduates–anyone at all I thought could help find answers.

No one is willing to do anything. None of them.

I received all sorts of replies from these “officials.” They said, “God would never want you to attack the University.” They said, “I think that the _____ family and the _____ family would say that BJ has been *more* than generous to them.” They said, “We offer a generous 401k”. But mostly, I was ignored.

What the University wants people to believe is that the “Promise” fund went belly-up (not true…I have an email from this summer from the Head of PR stating that it is still an active fund) and that faculty were offered “generous 401k packages” to help offset the broken promise.

What they fail to mention is that many of these faculty were stuck in the age group which did not allow them to retire and get the full promise (they were too young) but yet the 401k was not offered in time for them to make any significant savings (they were too old by that time.)

So a chunk of faculty (their ages today fall in the mid 60′s to upper 70′s category) were truly stuck in the middle. Too young to retire, to old to save in a 401k.

The government money that these faculty are now receiving (or are about to receive) is based on the poverty-level wages that they made their entire career at BJ. And when I use the term “poverty” I am not exaggerating. My relatives, who had advanced teaching degrees, made in the teens and lower 20′s until the year 2001 (at least). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to calculate that the low check from Social Security will not in any way be enough to live on.

BJU, its leaders, its Board Members, its Administrators are well aware that this broken promise means that many of their loyal employees of over 40 years will literally have to sell all of their earthly possessions just to eat and pay rent.

Many of the older faculty live on campus. When they are forced to retire, they then have to start paying rent to the University and utilities. Some of them have no where else to go, and BJU is now charging them rent for the house they’ve lived in for over 40 years!

In this economy, I might have a bit of compassion for the school if it weren’t for the fact that they DON’T CARE about what is happening. They are not lifting a finger to help out. They keep adding to their museums, traveling in their private jets, opening new schools in China, hiring artists for “Artist Series” at tens of thousands of dollars, sending employees to NYC to shop for fabric for their operas, flying in pastors almost weekly to speak in Chapel, etc. etc. etc.

And if this fund is indeed still an “active” fund, where is the money going? Certainly not to the faculty who were forced out this year. They have about 33% of the “Promise” left. Be aware that “having” 33% of the Promise only means these people receive a 33% discount on items purchased FROM THE SCHOOL–dining common meals, prescriptions from the pharmacy, Shepherd’s Care, the bookstore, and the cleaners. Aside from a tiny “housing allowance” no money is involved!

Are the older-older faculty in Shepherd’s Care the ones getting the money? The money that was promised to everyone is now going to just a few of the oldest? Where is the money? Who is getting it?

I know people (graduates/faculty) are finally starting to see it…they’re staring to actually see some of the lies that they have been told for so many decades.

I pray every day that more and more people will be less fearful to come out and say what has happened.

There’s no way to justify it-morally, ethically, spiritually, and in any other state of the union, legally.

One Comment

  1. Thanks to my guest for this insightful and heartfelt comment. I continue to receive messages at my private email address (sharonhambrick@hotmail.com) from people who feel just this way.

    I would also be delighted to hear from anyone who is receiving what they expected from the U. Please be as specific as possible.

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