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Why did an NNU theology professor speak out on academic freedom?

Thomay Jay Oord
Thomay Jay Oord

The Rev. Thomas Jay Oord, the subject of the Statesman’s two-day report Sunday and Monday on academic freedom at Northwest Nazarene University, explained on Facebook to friends why he decided to tell the newspaper his story.

I want NNU to be a place in which big and difficult questions can be asked openly and helpful answers explored without fear.

Thomas J. Ord

The Statesman stories detail the ordeal Oord, an NNU theology professor, faced when some of his teachings didn’t square with other Nazarenes’ beliefs, and how the school is now focusing on academic freedom questions. The post was written before Monday’s story was published.

Here is what Ord wrote:

“Friends: Several people – including my family members – asked why I cooperated with this story. So I thought I’d post a short answer here.

“My primary reason is that I love NNU, her faculty, alumni, students, and more. I think love demands that I act in ways that promote overall well-being, not just my own or my family’s. More specifically, I worry that the pain so many of us endured – and still endure – has not brought needed changes to NNU.

“I’m happy Joel (Pearsall) is president. But I don’t think faculty have more academic freedom. As far as I know, nothing formal has changed to protect staff and faculty, even administrators. I worry that what happened to me could easily happen to others.

“I also want NNU to be a place in which big and difficult questions can be asked openly and helpful answers explored without fear. I worry about a real or felt ‘clamp down’ on any topic remotely controversial.

“I’m hoping Monday’s story in the Statesman encourages me to think changes are occurring that will help NNU and all those associated with it.”

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