Cedarville U Places President Thomas White on Administrative Leave; Appoints General Reno Acting President

By Julie Roys

Cedarville University’s board of Trustees today placed President Dr. Thomas White on administrative leave, following major controversy involving the hiring of Dr. Anthony Moore–an admitted sexual abuser. The board appointed Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Loren Reno as acting president of Cedarville.

In a statement, the trustees said, “The Board of Trustees at Cedarville University was recently made aware of additional information related to Dr. Anthony Moore’s past that led to the termination of his employment by our president, Dr. Thomas White, on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The board is incredibly grieved over this new information and the questions it raises.”

A week ago, Dr. White fired Anthony Moore, a theology professor, claiming that new information had come to light concerning the extent of Moore’s sexual misconduct that White didn’t know when he hired Moore in 2017. However, White’s account has been disputed by Moore’s former employer, The Village Church in Fort Worth, Texas. 

White also claimed last week that the “restoration” plan he gave Moore did not permit Moore to teach during his first year at the school. However, both a professor and a former and current student at Cedarville say Moore taught classes during his first year at Cedarville. Similarly, in a 2017 leaked email from White to the trustees, White says Moore will teach some online classes his first year and possibly co-teach with Dr. Jason Lee, dean of the School of Biblical and Theological Studies.

In a statement today, the trustees said they will hire 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 trustees added that the firm will report its findings to the board.

The trustees also said it is hiring 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.” The trustees said the firm will report its findings to the board and then to the “Cedarvill University community at-large.”

The Full Statement by Cedarville University Board of Trustees:

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36 thoughts on “Cedarville U Places President Thomas White on Administrative Leave; Appoints General Reno Acting President”

  1. Julie –

    I mentioned this on your leaked email blog post, but I will reiterate here. At this point, I firmly believe this goes beyond Dr. Moore. I am convinced that the trustees are currently aware of, and have approved, at least one other similar restoration case at Cedarville, which likely involves a faculty hire.

    When I first read the final non-redacted paragraph of the leaked email from Dr. White to the trustees, one sentence stood out: “I also recognize that one institution can only attempt a few such restoration cases at a time.”

    We know Dr. Moore was the first staff hire on which Dr. White sought input from the trustees (last paragraph on page 1: “I have never sought your input on a staff hiring…”), but was Dr. Moore the first “restoration” case for which Dr. White sought the trustees’ approval?

    If Dr. Moore was the first “restoration” case that Dr. White had proposed to the trustees, then the sentence in question makes no sense.

    If Cedarville had no other “restoration” cases at the time, why would Dr. White acknowledge that Cedarville “can only attempt a few […] at a time?” A trustee reading this sentence who was not aware of at least one other existing “restoration case” might think, “a few, what does he mean, ‘a few?'” The sentence would only lead to confusion and increased scrutiny.

    On the other hand, a trustee reading the email who is aware of at least one other existing “restoration case” would think, “another restoration case, how many does Dr. White think we can hire?” And that is exactly why Dr. White included this sentence, because there is at least one other “restoration case” that he received approval from the trustees to hire.

    Dr. White added this sentence because, in July 2017, he had already hired, with approval from the trustees, at least one other “restoration case” at the faculty level at least, and Dr. White anticipated that the trustees would object to Cedarville hiring too many individuals in need of “restoration.”

    This interpretation of the sentence is further supported by the composition of the board of trustees at the time, which included Paige Patterson. Frankly, I would be surprised if a governing body of which Patterson was a member made only one “restoration” hire.

    Moreover, while an independent firm has been retained per point #2 above, the scope of the independent audit is limited solely to the hiring of Dr. Moore and not the hiring process in general or corporate governance more broadly. This is because the trustees already know there is at least one other “restoration” hire, and they are trying to hide that fact.

    I do not believe the trustees were providing effective oversight of Dr. White or independently challenging his strategic vision. We cannot expect a weak and self-serving governing body to commission an independent investigation that it knows will be self-incriminating. This ineffective and poorly governing board cannot be trusted to investigate or receive an “independent” audit report regarding a scandal that directly arose from a decision it approved.

    1. Jessica Hockett

      I agree with your reading. Well-observed. Almost makes me wonder if the term “restoration case” is common in Christian higher ed.

    2. Sounds all too familiar… anyone remember Michael Loftis and ABWE scandal… he was welcomed at Cedarville too

  2. Jennifer Eason

    The appointment as acting president of a man with military background sounds like image making to me. “This will convince all the parents and donors that everything’s under control”…

  3. Reader from Florida

    The fact that they are not doing the internal auditing on their own or in-house should be seen as a positive. I believe the trustees are trying to respond biblically and do the right thing. I think questioning and seeking the truth is right, but let’s not assume guilt until proven otherwise.

    1. Former CU Prof

      If you look at what the letter says though, the external investigation results will be given to the board, who may then share the results as they see fit. There is no guarantee that the results will be shared with the community. Any results that come out will be the board’s version of what they want shared.

    2. It depends on who is being hired to conduct this “independent audit”. If Cedarville hires a law firm to conduct this audit, then we need to keep the following in mind:

      1) Law firms must act solely in the best interest of their client, not current or future victims. They have a fiduciary duty to do so. Anything that they find out during this “investigation” will be classified as privileged communication. Harvey Weinstein hired law firms to perform similar services. The law firms would be the ones to hire the PI’s who would then unearth the dirt, locate other witnesses, etc. Then the law firm would be required to stay silent while Harvey would undertake all kinds of counter-measures.

      2) If it is a law firm or PR Crisis Management firm who works primarily in the Big Eva Industrial Complex, they have a built-in conflict of interest before any work begins. If they produce reports that put the hiring org in a bad light, then other megachurches and evangelical non-profits will not want to hire them in the future. If they are renown for giving clean bills of health or glowing reviews, they receive more high-paying gigs. This is simply how this industry works.

      3) Folks should pay attention to the choice of words used by CU leaders regarding this “investigation”. They have said that this independent audit is being performed to “confirm” or “ensure” that “nothing inappropriate has taken place”. It sounds like the press release has already been written. They just need a compliance oriented firm to rubber stamp it. IF Cedarville really wanted to find out how bad things truly were, they would not have written the conclusion first.

      4) Anthony Moore’s crimes were crimes of concealment. The entire paraphilia of voyeurism revolves around CONCEALMENT. Most videos are never discovered. Cedarville did NOTHING to access his many digital devices as soon as they claimed to have found out the “truth” about his prior crimes. If Moore had locker room or other CU non-consensual videos of a private nature, does anyone honestly believe those haven’t been destroyed by now? What will be left for them to find at this point? CU will boldly claim that “no other videos were recovered” but how meaningful will that proclamation be, now that Moore is already fired and his hard drives have left town with him?

      5) Who will this firm be interviewing at this point? Students have long since returned to their homes.The crimes of grooming have already taken place in Cedarville. Moore was grooming kids within a couple of months of joining the staff who were not even in his classes or on the basketball team. He had built up enough rapport to try to get at least one kid to take an unchaperoned overnight trip into the wilderness with him. That’s terrifying. How will this investigation access a pool of students who are not even listed on his class or sports’ roster? Especially when some of this grooming took place over two years ago? What if they were cafeteria workers or some kids working at the local Starbucks? The pool of potential victims is huge. Most victims of this particular sex crime have no clue that they were videoed. This is exactly why Moore preferred academic environments to operate in.

      If Cedarville has the backbone to hire an organization such as GRACE, who fully understand the myriad methods of grooming and allow no one to influence their findings and limit the distribution of their reports, then I would say that there might be hope. But this sounds like they are going to hire the law firm Ministry Safe (Norris + Love) or Middlebrook or some other Big Eva sex abuse friendly firm. The fact that Cedarville leaders are already stating that one report may be open to the public while the other one won’t be, says that CU is not really interested in transparency. They are interested in spin and control. In which case, this is simply “compliance theater”. Cedarville will be slapping some happy face wall paper over their filth in the hopes that this will fool enough of the people to continue making a profit.

    3. Hey Mr Florida the crimes committed by Paige Patterson are well documented. I say crimes because when one aids and abets a rapist to escape justice that’s a criminal act. Just because someone is not charged doesn’t mean their not a criminal. The one victim of Paige has already been proven to be reliable. She points her finger right at White as being involved. Since it’s administrative matter the criminal rules of evidence don’t apply ie No Baloney of innocent to proven guilty apply here my friend. Please know what your talking about before defending such low lives. An Aider and abettor is guilty of the underlying crime therefore White is a RAPIST by the letter of the law.

  4. Henry Hamilton

    The hiring of a retired Lieutenant General is not image making. It is placing a person with real-world integrity and decision-making skills in charge while the board, in which corporate authority resides, sorts this mess out. Certainly the last thing CU needs in the short term is dishonest floundering leadership by some insipid academic.

    1. Jennifer Eason

      Are you saying Christian academics should be disqualified from leadership positions? That all Christian academics are perforce “dishonest”, “insipid”, and given to “floundering”?

      1. Jennifer Eason

        I don’t know a thing about CU and had no idea who Lt. Gen. Reno is. CU choosing to put a military man as head during a crisis involving possible sexual misconduct raised all kinds of red flags in my mind. Honestly, a child could see thru this…

    2. Is that why a large number of professors are greatly dismayed about Reno’s appointment after having worked with him as AVP?

      The following quotes are just three I’ve seen from three separate former professors.

      “ Holy cow !!!!!!! Traded one problem for another”

      “White is most likely gone but bringing Reno back shows that the trustees are still a major problem. “

      “ CU’s announcement late this afternoon that they were making Reno acting president and putting White on administrative leave is also the WORST decision the trustees could make. It could not be worse. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.”

    3. Former CU Prof

      The assignment of Loren Reno to Acting President is a slap in the face to the faculty and staff.

    4. Janna L. Chan

      In that case, why not replace all the trustees with retired generals? Some of current trustees seem to possess namby pamby academic backgrounds.

      Imagine having a bunch of insipid civilians running a university?

      P.S. – What makes you think that all retired generals have integrity? History suggests otherwise.

  5. Justicecollective

    Dr. White’s blog clearly says Gen. Reno participated in the execution of Dr. Moore’s “restoration plan.” Therefore, the trustees’ decision to name Gen. Reno acting president—before investigations—while simultaneously putting Dr. White on leave—pending those investigations—makes no sense.

    Once again, things don’t add up at CU.

    While we appreciate Gen. Reno’s military service, he helped create an intensely hostile environment at CU when he was the VPA. He systematically forced faculty out by denying them tenure, against recommendations from such faculty’s departments and the tenure committee, or by making other faculty so miserable, they left. Those Gen. Reno forced out were likewise required to sign NDAs in order to get severance pay.

    Thus, many faculty do not respect Gen. Reno; they fear him. His militaristic rule has no place in higher education precisely because he doesn’t understand that higher education thrives most when it fosters open discourse, vibrant scholarship, and the expression of disparate viewpoints. (Not all committed Christians agree on all points of politics and theology, after all). Gen. Reno does not hold a doctoral degree and is not a scholar, so he doesn’t understand any of this.

    The trustees know full well who Gen. Reno is and how he works. The trustees’ appointment of Gen. Reno, therefore, IS meant not only to give the appearance of order and “control” to the public but also to strictly mandate order and “control” on campus. It’s like declaring martial law, but not for the protection of the innocent; instead, it’s meant to threaten and silence anyone who’d dare to speak out.

    1. Janna L. Chan

      But who’s investigating the trustees?

      It seems likely to me that at least some of the trustees are hiding behind a grouchy formal general, because they were,and are still, complicit in the hiring of Moore and other known sexual predators.
      Perhaps that’s why they can’t fire Thomas White. He probably knows too much.

      I predict that Cedarville will soon be bankrupt. In this pandemic’s economic environment, fewer people will be willing or able to pay to attend an expensive private Christian college.

      This was not a good time for Cedarville’s trustees to throw its reputation in the toilet.

    2. Authoritarian, lording it over type of leadership has no place in a Kingdom institution either! I believe God is exposing this controlling type of leadership as more and more people recognize it as unhealthy at best and unbiblical abuse of power at worst…

    3. Former CU Faculty

      Anyone who has been at CU for two months knows how things operate. As former faculty, that’s barely how long it took before I started “earn” the attention of the president and other administration by merely asking biblical questions, which I assumed would be encouraged by a Christian University and given the “word-centered” mission statement. I was so wrong. The “fear factor” and intimidation culture became crystal clear and the message was “comply or say bye bye.” Trying to control people by power, fear, intimidation, and threat of termination is not the of Christ.

  6. “1. We are paying someone someone to conduct an internal investigation to ensure the result we already declare. They will report only to us, and we will then publish the story we want to appear authoritative in the public record.”

    I can think of several ways something like that could have come to appear prominently in official written communication. None of them bode well.

    The most optimistic scenario I can imagine is that someone falsely attributed this statement to a “Board of Trustees” who never saw it and a majority of trustees are already coordinating their public repudiation of this statement.

    1. Melissa Faulkner

      I worked closely with General Reno during his two years as VPA. With no academic background, he was in way over his head, but Dr. White was fine with that because Reno only had one real job, crack the whip and scare faculty into silent submission, which is what he did. The fact the BOT passed over current VPA Tom Mach and brought Loren Reno back to be Acting President tells me they are afraid of the faculty rising up and acting the amazing academics that they are. The fact that Loren Reno was a part of Moore’s restoration plan, too, shows just how seriously they are taking this matter. Not at all. It is a toxic good old boy network. Trust me… I was a woman trying to work with those boys.

      1. So… the BoT is perhaps vulnerable to honest faculty?

        If the BoT has in fact “endorsed and ordered” as above, then they’ve disclosed who they are. Time for honest faculty to consider what their status quo is really worth to them vs venturing to change whom they work for.

  7. David Jankowski

    I thought for sure that I left a comment this morning, but I don’t see it here. I can only wonder why. Maybe I didn’t hit the right button.

    1. ANOTHER CONCERNED PARENT

      David, I as well was not allowed to post, don’t know why, not worried, either. Glad these blogs are on this subject.

      1. ANOTHER CONCERNED PARENT

        My moderated post was about the Xenia Gazette saying Moore was fired after White discovered Moore violated the 5 year plan, and my understanding was White allowed him to teach, contrary to the plan, as well as contrary to the opinion of TVC.

        1. ANOTHER CONCERNED PARENT

          PS, the main idea is I never heard that Moore violated the 5 year plan, yet that’s what the Xenia Gazette claimed White gave as a basis for Moore’s termination. What I heard was the 5 videos vs only 2 nonsense, but that was before Moore came and wasn’t part of any 5 year plan.

    2. ANOTHER CONCERNED PARENT

      My comment was the Xenia Gazette ran an article that claimed Moore was fired after they found out he violated the 5 year plan. But I thought it was CU itself, that allowed Moore to teach. contra the plan. Not to mention coaching basketball and being in make locker rooms at all under any circumstances was very wrong.

  8. I left CU for the very reasons Melissa Faulkner states here. The appointment of Gen. Reno is, indeed, as another former CU prof says here, a “slap in the face” to all CU faculty. It’s a travesty.

    And Amy Moore, whoever you are, THANK YOU. Your analysis of every law firm’s legal obligations to clients (they must zealously represent them, no matter what) as well as the trustee’s language in their email is spot-on. I, too, found the trustees’ wording deeply troubling.

    In fact, did you all know that the trustees used Dr. White’s very wording from White’s email? He had written the same statement (i.e., “to ensure nothing inappropriate happened”) in his email to faculty, staff, and students. Apparently, they “lawyered up” together. So they appear to be on the same page, before investigations even begin–let’s just do a cursory search to confirm nothing happened rather than a deep investigation asking for possible victims to come forward. We’d rather not know!

    As you say, Amy, “IF Cedarville really wanted to find out how bad things truly were, they would not have written the conclusion first.” And I would add: IF Cedarville really wanted to improve the hostile-to-faculty environment at CU by eliminating the culture of fear and intimidation, they would never ever have appointed Gen. Reno as acting president. Instead, Reno would be on leave, too–as would everyone who was involved in Moore’s restorative process, according to White’s own blog, as another post here points out.

    Although I appreciated my education at CU under Dr. Dixon’s years, I have not been able to recommend CU to any prospective student since White came on board in 2013. It’s just not a safe place for anyone who doesn’t fit the strict mold. Even CU alumni like me don’t fit there any more, thus the reason why many CU alumni like me, who used to be staff members or professors, have left!

    At this point, when asked, I’m now telling present and prospective students alike: RUN. As pointed out here, state schools are far more affordable (plus Campus Crusade and Intervarsity have presences there). Likewise, wonderful CCCUs exist that aren’t run like CU. Run to them.

  9. misterjesperson

    Following this story this thing looks like everyone from Matt Chandler down to the trustees are all playing hot potato with the buck. They all messed up in various ways, but they would all love to throw each other under the bus. All of these guys act just like the Devil himself. No one accepts responsibility for doing what should have never been done. What you actually believe is what they do. None of these clowns actually believe the Gospel. If they did they would not have participated in this travesty in the first place. Also, they would take responsibility instead of throwing the potato at someone else to take the blame. This is not a school, but a joke at this point. What is in our lap is going to make a lot of faux-Christian things go out of business. I am betting this to be one of the first to go…

  10. As a CU alum and former employee, I am not hopeful that Thomas White will ultimately be terminated. I don’t think he will be going anywhere anytime soon. There is a sizeable new home for the CU President being constructed on University property designed specifically to meet the needs of the White family. Check out wielandbuilders on Instagram and take a look at the Cedarville home under construction.

    I am also not sure why the connection between brothers Brian Miller, one of the Lead Pastors at the Village Church in Texas and Craig Miller, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville has not been further explored. A Pastor of the church that fired Moore and the Pastor of the church where Moore is currently a member are brothers? That cannot be a coincidence. It looks like a very well orchestrated “restoration” plan. Are we supposed to believe there was no communication between the brothers regarding Moore?

    This gets more ridiculous and convoluted with each day that passes. I think CU believes they survived the news cycle and are hoping this will all just blow over.

    Thomas White made a terrible decision. Decisions have consequences.

    1. Following up on my earlier post… the Instagram account @wielandbuilders has “renamed” the Cedarville home story under construction to “Cedar Grove”. Really, was that necessary? It’s no secret in Cedarville that President White has a luxury home under construction. Did representatives from Cedarville University ask Wieland Builders to rename their story? What else is Cedarville University working hard to hide?

      1. Now changed to “GreenfieldGove”. :) You can run, but you cannot hide. I would think @wielandbuilders is enjoying unprecedented traffic to their Instagram page!

    2. Exactly my thoughts on the matter Sarah. It cannot be overlooked that the Miller brothers discussed Moore’s “restoration” plan. Moore had access to young men at Grace while under the “watchful eye” of Craig and his merry band of croonies running that place.

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