Exeleon Magazine

William Wilson: Weaving Excellence through Global Experience

William Wilson_Exeleon Magazine

We, as humans, are essentially a combination of spirit, mind, and body which stimulates passion and curiosity. Curiosity, subsequently, enables us to ask questions and apply ourselves to the challenges of the world, wherein we are exposed to situations that can only be solved when man submits them to God who then turns them into global opportunities.

Upon facing these global opportunities, we are introduced to facts and are able to learn from these experiences. By learning, we gain realization and attain maturity. And by attaining maturity, we grow and become aware of how to address global issues.

This ongoing cycle can be summed up as experience. And through these personal, collaborative, and professional experiences, leaders are perfected.

Very seldom do we find global leaders who are experienced and bold enough to address global challenges. One such leader is Dr. William Wilson, President of Oral Roberts University, who has leveraged his four decades of global experiences, and translated them into success on a global scale.

A Journey Shaped by Experience and Knowledge

Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, William Wilson was elected as the fourth President of Oral Roberts University in 2013. He was selected as the one candidate out of 131 who had the global experience, credibility, and passion to take ORU to a new level of global influence. During his inauguration, Dr. Edward O. Blews described Wilson this way: “Dr. William M. Wilson is a global influencer, and today marks a marvelous match made in heaven between a terrific leader and a tremendous university… for the great benefit of this community and the world.”

Wilson’s global journey is not a traditional pathway that university board of trustees often choose. However, this unique pathway is the very reason that ORU now leads numerous global initiatives across the higher education space. In fact, on Wilson’s first day in office, he initiated the Globalization Task Force, which produced the initial pathway and goals toward globalization.

Since taking office, Wilson’s leadership skills have exceeded the expectations of ORU’s Board of Trustees. In addition to leading the University through eleven consecutive years of growth and expansion, ORU has expanded from serving students from 79 nations to 115. In addition, Wilson has created a world-class digital Autobahn, which is trademarked ‘ORU Geovision Technology’ and provides digital access to whole person curriculum and resources for people in 193 nations.

Wilson has over four decades of executive leadership experience. He previously served as the Executive Director for the International Center for Spiritual Renewal in Cleveland, TN. He continues serving in other areas including as the Executive Director of Empowered21, a global church-resourcing initiative launched and housed at ORU that serves over 650 million people around the world. The initiative brings together scholars, ministry leaders, and next-gen voices from the Spirit-empowered movement. Wilson was also recently named Chairman of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.

Speaking about his journey towards globalization, Wilson notes that it has been, “Invigorating, challenging, and extremely rewarding, all at the same time.” Over the years, he has established several global alliances for ORU, and in 2019 successfully completed the $50 million, 50th Anniversary Campaign for the University. He is now leading a new $75M campaign with an incredible three-to-one match contribution (up to $45 million), which will help bring four new facilities including the Center for Global Leadership, and provide even more international scholarships.

The vision that Wilson spoke about at his 2013 inauguration is well underway and clearly in focus through ORU’s Impact 2030 Plan: “For the past 48 years ORU has been a United States university with an outreach to the nations. In the 21st century, we must become a global university whose main campus happens to be in the center of the United States.”  It is clear that Wilson’s Global leadership experiences and journey were truly a Godsend to ORU and the global community.

Wilson believes his decades of global experience along with his master’s degree, doctorate, and participation in the Harvard Seminar for Presidents leadership program have collectively helped him prepare for the success the University is experiencing. However, he is quick to note that “all the training and education must be personalized to deal with the ongoing changes in higher education.”

Pursuit of Excellence

Since his appointment as ORU’s President, Wilson has focused on the immediate needs while also keeping his eyes on the future. His pursuit of excellence in organizational management, leadership, collaboration, and governance remains a driving force in the vision for the University. He knew that if ORU could create and sustain a culture of excellence through its whole person education, then any challenges or obstacles would be naturally overcome. Thus, his actions have always echoed the mission of ORU – “to develop Holy Spirit-empowered leaders through whole person education to impact the world.”

This pursuit of excellence prompted the Board of Trustees, Wilson, and the University Planning Council to focus the growth model on the following three principles of operation:

  1. Have a sustainable and balanced university-wide governance structure.
  2. Develop and maintain an annually updated five-year adaptive plan.
  3. Create a financial model that is viable, believable, and achievable.

The University has intentionally encouraged all students to aim high, irrespective of their discipline of study. Over the past 55 years since ORU’s inception, students have been innovating solutions around the globe.

William Wilson Quote

Facilitating Leadership and Innovation

Wilson has clearly excelled in his global and visionary leadership. This is demonstrated through hundreds of global leaders who have unanimously selected him to lead one of the largest global Spirit-empowered universities, chair the Pentecostal World Fellowship, and lead the E21 Movement. This leadership across these three organizations not only impacts millions of people around the world, but also mentors thousands of other leaders globally.

Most recently, ORU launched the world-class Jim Stovall Center for Entrepreneurship, wherein students participate in various innovative strategies and learn how to approach innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship. More than 20 teams are participating in the first entrepreneurship contest through the Center.  “ORU was birthed with an innovative mindset over 55 years ago.  We have maintained and grown our global leadership position by synergizing students around the concept of ‘making no little plans while they are here’ and becoming whole leaders for the whole world,” Dr. William Wilson asserts.

In January 2019, two students from India and Nigeria won scholarships with the International Association of Innovation Professionals for their innovations around ORU Geo-Vision Technologies, one of which has now become an official platform for ORU.

More than Just a University

ORU’s distinctive whole person education has helped it refine its curriculum. Backed by an outstanding faculty who are willing to engage with students, this whole person curriculum makes all the difference in the lives of ORU students. “The fact that we have embedded this whole person concept into the curriculum and that we live out our concern for the whole person is clearly one of our top differentiators,” says Wilson.

Located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, ORU’s six colleges offer over 150 undergraduate and graduate programs, including 4 doctoral programs. The University has over 4,000 students in for-credit programs and over 3,000 certificate-seeking students. Most recently, ORU ranked 4th in the United States for student engagement by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Ed.

“We have thousands of students who clearly recognize that ORU is like no other university in the world. Our list of over 20 national achievements and 15 global awards testify to the fact that we are making a difference in every discipline for students from 115 nations around the world,” adds William Wilson.

Education beyond Textbooks

Speaking about digital adoption and the need to move beyond textbooks, Wilson affirms that “ORU is 100% committed to this.”

The University made it mandatory for all online programs to use digital text resources early last year. This has led to a tremendous boost in the University’s online programs and reduced costs. Additionally, the University invested $1.1 million into immersive learning through the effective use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

For ORU, the move to reduce the cost of textbooks is only part of a bigger goal, which is centered around providing an immersive learning experience that extends beyond any online or hard copy text book. For this, ORU has assembled a library of an estimated 500,000 immersive learning experiences.

“We believe this investment and application of immersive learning with augmented and virtual reality has been the reason ORU is one of the most sought after speakers in the world of immersive learning,” said William Wilson.

ORU understands the role of technology in its future growth. However, it also understands the need for technology to be simple, intuitive, and accessible for everyone. Recently, ORU created a device named AI-enabled MQ-Mirror, which allows students to engage with all education systems and acquire global knowledge through a smart mirror.

Impact 2030

Spearheaded by William Wilson, ORU is on a continuous mission to impact the world in the future. With the market demand for education increasing at a rapid pace, ORU has developed an extensive plan called Impact 2030, which includes the following key goals:

  • Developing Whole Leaders for the Whole World
  • Achieving Exceptional Teaching, Innovation, and Academic Excellence
  • Educating Learners from Every Nation
  • Demonstrating a Vibrant Spirit-Empowered Ethos that Impacts the World
  • Growing a Strong and Expanded Tulsa Campus
  • Using New Technologies in Creative and Transformative Ways
  • Thriving with Financial Vitality
  • Serving Globally as the Differentiated Premier University for Spirit-Empowered Leadership Development

With an enduring commitment to its founding vision, ORU continues to advance towards 2030, while impacting societal shifts and influencing global change. It is clear that the global leadership positions that Wilson has held over the past four decades have helped him lead ORU to expand in fresh new ways and will allow him to continue leading the University into an even brighter future.

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