News Story

The Most Joyful Campus . . .

By Kelsie Beers, Class of 2015 

Dr. and Mrs. Rutland

In 2011, Dr. and Mrs. Rutland took part in the ribbon-cutting and open house of the newly renovated Studio One, located on LRC 1. Here, they’re sitting at the broadcast desk that was donated by KJRH 2 Works for You, the local NBC affiliate.

Ask a group of ORU students what they think of when they hear the name “Dr. Mark Rutland,” and that’s the first thing most of them will tell you: “Welcome to the most joyful campus in this or any parallel universe!” It seems natural by this point; enough indoctrinated freshmen have heard the saying to recognize it right off and say it along with him -- in chapel, where they first heard it, or elsewhere.

Here's what some other students have to say about ORU's third president, who leaves office this spring.

"Dr. Rutland can get away with anything, even calling us brats or telling us we're all going to grow mustaches when we get old. He's relatable because he doesn't try to be super relevant. He's just himself, and that authenticity is what I really appreciate about him." —Jessica C.

"He's grandfatherly. He's approachable. He makes you want to go sit down and listen to all the wisdom he has to share." —Gavin F.

"So many times, I would come to chapel, and Dr. Rutland would come up to greet me, and he always gave me the sweetest compliments, like, 'Why, look at you, all dolled up today.'" —Jessica W.

As my freshman year draws to a close, I find myself so thankful that I was here for the Rutlands' last year. I began kindergarten when I was four and have always been a year younger than everyone else in my grade, prompting comments from meddling moms about how I would probably be socially inept or academically behind, but I always refused to believe I was "out of place." And now I'm absolutely sure of it: I was given this year, this chance to get to know and hear from and love Dr. Rutland, to carry on that joy that he brought to our campus.

A short time ago, Dr. Thomson Mathew spoke in chapel about Moses, Joshua, and the Israelites. He pointed out that after Joshua died, the generation under him did not carry on his legacy, because the next book of the Bible tells us that the Israelites did not know the Lord or what he had done for Israel. He made the analogy that we are that turning point of our own generation. Dr. Billy Wilson (ORU's next president) is an amazing man with an amazing vision for ORU, but as students, it is our responsibility to respond to that vision -- and, when we graduate, to encourage those who will come after us.

ORU was a dream that God brought to reality, but that dream started to crumble for a few years. Dr. Rutland facilitated those practical changes that would rescue the campus. First Lady Alison Rutland brought beauty to neglected areas of the campus and built us up with quiet support. But the Rutlands also recreated the joy.

"He's the only person who can repeat the same jokes a thousand times and it still be funny." —Emily K.

And here are some "Rutlandisms" . . .

"If you're visiting on campus, know that every penny of the offering goes to our missions project, and also remember that million is spelled M-I-L-L-I-O-N."

"It hurts me when you laugh like that!"

"You are all so young and talented, it makes me sick."

And, of course, there's the way he says "David" (something like "Dyvid").

Every student I spoke with gave me some variant of the same answer: Dr. and Mrs. Rutland, you are loved. Your smiles, your uplifting words, your incessant encouragement of every dream on campus -- you have been an inspiration to the students of ORU for all of the years you have been here, but it will go beyond that. We who were privileged to be led by you will carry on these traditions and keep up the atmosphere of life and joy you helped to bring back.