Cedarville University’s Board of Trustees today reinstated Dr. Thomas White as president, despite an investigation’s conclusion that White obscured the nature of a professor’s sexual misconduct and withheld this information from the board.
As a result, two trustees, Pastor Mark Vroegop of College Park Church and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, have resigned. Both said they were troubled by the board’s decision and could not support it.
The professor, Dr. Anthony Moore, was fired from his position as an assistant professor of theology and Special Advisor to the President for Kingdom Diversity in April.
This came after White said he learned new details about Moore’s prior sexual misconduct, which involved taking multiple secret videos of a male youth pastor showering.(The church that had previously fired Moore, however, said it had disclosed all these details to White before Moore was hired.)
On May 1, Cedarville’s trustees put Moore on administrative leave, pending an independent investigation. Today, the board announced the results of that investigation, which was conducted by the law firm Husch Blackwell.
Husch Blackwell said it found that there is “no reason to question President White’s benevolent motivation” for hiring Moore.
Yet, the firm also said that “it is reasonable to infer from the evidence available that President White took steps that he knew, or should have known, clouded the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct. The firm also concluded that White “subsequently failed to notify the Board of the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct.”
Despite these findings, the board reinstated White, noting that White “has apologized for these mistakes, acknowledged his errors in judgment . . . and has expressed remorse for hiring Dr. Moore.”
However, the board said it is requiring White to complete courses on victim prevention and victim advocacy and to lead Cedarville to emphasize these issues.
In a statement tweeted this afternoon, Danny Akin said that the hiring of Moore and the plan for his restoration “was seriously flawed” and “poorly implemented.” Akin said he tendered his resignation immediately after the board voted on Tuesday to reinstate White.
My Letter of Resignation from the Board of Trustees of Cedarville University pic.twitter.com/eoPgT76FPo
— Daniel Akin (@DannyAkin) June 26, 2020
Similarly, Vroegop said in a statement posted online that he does not believe that the steps taken by the board “are sufficient in light of what the report revealed.” Vroegop said he has resigned from the board effective today.
Below is the full statement from the Cedarville Board of Trustees:
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of Cedarville University was made aware of additional information related to Dr. Anthony Moore’s past that led to the termination of his employment by President Thomas White on April 23, 2020; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees considered this matter at the spring meeting of the Board and ordered three courses of action on May 1, 2020:
- To hire an independent firm to conduct an internal investigation to ensure nothing inappropriate involving Dr. Moore took place on our campus or with any of our students elsewhere. This firm will report to the Board, and the Board will then report the findings to the Cedarville University community at-large.
- To retain an independent firm to conduct an audit of the entire process surrounding the hiring of Dr. Moore. This will include a thorough review of all relevant communication involving Dr. White and Dr. Moore, the Trustees, The Village Church, employment references, etc. The firm will report its findings to the Board.
- To place Dr. White on administrative leave during these investigations and appointed Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Loren Reno as acting president of Cedarville University; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees asked Husch Blackwell LLP to conduct an investigation using its independent professional judgment and to present its findings to the Board; and
WHEREAS, Husch Blackwell LLP found no evidence that Dr. Moore engaged in any conduct of a sexual nature on campus or with any University student or employee elsewhere; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees asked Husch Blackwell LLP to conduct an audit of the process surrounding the hiring of Dr. Moore using its independent professional judgment and to present its findings to the Board independent of any outside influence; and
WHEREAS, Husch Blackwell LLP found that:
- There is no reason to question President White’s benevolent motivation with respect to the overall enterprise of hiring Dr. Moore.
- It is reasonable to infer from the evidence available that President White took steps that he knew, or should have known, clouded the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct.
- It is reasonable to infer that President White subsequently failed to notify the Board of the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct; and
WHEREAS, President White has apologized for these mistakes, acknowledged his errors in judgment and oversight, and has expressed remorse for hiring Dr. Moore; and
WHEREAS, President White took action when he learned the full extent of Dr. Moore’s past; and
WHEREAS, President White has seven years of excellent service, and during his administrative leave he has continued to express remorse for his mistakes and has voluntarily cooperated with the internal investigation; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of Cedarville University reinstates President White from administrative leave; and be it
RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of Cedarville University is requiring Dr. White:
- To complete courses on victim prevention and victim advocacy
- To lead Cedarville University to emphasize victim prevention, awareness, advocacy, and other related areas; and be it
RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of Cedarville University commits to moving forward with humility, grace, mercy, integrity, civility, and respect and prays that God will be honored by these actions.
Mark Vroegop’s Statement: