NNU trustees order review of plan that included layoffs

An eight-person panel will review Northwest Nazarene University’s plan for a $1.3 million budget shift next year that includes laying off six employees. The review comes after faculty, former students and others criticized the school’s decision to lay off a theology professor.

The panel, which will include pairs of trustees, faculty, administrators and alumni, will be led by an outside facilitator, trustees said in a statement Friday. The group will report to the board on June 15. The committee has not been chosen.

Trustees will also began discussions on faculty concerns that they be included in more decision making at the school.

“We are directing that initiatives be put in place starting immediately and extending across the next 18 months,” the statement said.

The actions followed a tumultuous two weeks at the Nampa private college after word spread that Thomas Oord, a graduate theology professor, was being laid off. Critics took to social media to condemn the school’s decision and complained it was because of theological differences between Oord and the school, a contention that school officials denied.

Seventy-seven percent of the faculty voted Tuesday in favor of a no-confidence vote in NNU President David Alexander’s leadership. The faculty strongly supported more faculty involvement in how decisions are made.

Alexander publicly apologized to Oord in a letter on the school’s website for his handling of Oord’s job.

NNU is embarking on a plan to redeploy $1.3 million in its $40 million budget to ease student costs, strengthen programs that are growing and add to the university’s budget reserves.

“It is our humble hope and earnest prayer that these initiatives will be helpful steps toward creating an atmosphere of healing and health,” trustees said.