A few thoughts on the sudden about-face of Northland International “University”:

Clearly what we have witnessed is a power struggle. The conservative members of the board were able to get enough backing to fire Matt Olson, but the family spoke, the decision of the board was reversed, and according to some reports, all non-family members of the board resigned.

Which leads one to conclude that the board was a sham, the real power at NI”U” lies with the Patz family.

And one would have to think that the conservatives made a mistake in allowing Matt to continue through graduation, though perhaps they didn’t have enough clout to pull that off.

Clearly, the whiplash effect is an embarrassment – NI”U” is a sham school. It is hard to see how they have any credibility going forward. Will they have more than 200 students next year? Would you risk your hard earned $$$ to send a student there?

The chirping at SI by some that says this is showing leadership is incredibly amusing. Apparently these folks have no clue about leadership or integrity.

It’s a pretty sad situation. Hard to imagine how quickly this situation has deteriorated. Hard to see any way out for the Patz family and their play school.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3


  1. Wally Morris says:

    Truly strange events at Northland. May other Christian schools take careful notice of the disaster at that school.

  2. Doug Merrill says:

    Agreed, Don. The jaw simply drops to read the comments over at SI made by those carrying the water for Matt Olson and NIU. This is indicative of the approach to all the non-changy changes that have taken place there. Float a trial balloon just to test the waters, then pull it back once the heat gets turned up to high.

    The apostle James couldn’t have described the actions of this type of “leadership” any better: “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

    • Wally Morris says:

      Speaking about trial balloons, I wonder if BJUs “one-time-only” athletic game with Furman several years ago was a trial balloon for the start of its intercollegiate sports involvement. I remember that, at the time, the school strongly insisted that its Thanksgiving game with Furman was “one-time-only”. Apparently not.

      • Well, I am not a fan of the intercollegiate sports, but I think they have done a few similar events prior to that one. We need to hold the leaders of the schools accountable, however, as alums and supporters. It isn’t a matter of being cranks, but being vocal. Schools are lost when their supporters remain concerned but mute.

  3. So….

    Howard Patz commended Matt Olson for “leading” the changes in philosophy and practice which Olson denied (for years) were happening.

    He apologised for the confusion of the past ten days but not for the confusion of the past three years.

    He said that Olson was terminated over finances / management, but board members resign over his reinstatement?

    Ok, I guess.

    So the chairman of Northland’s board will be an EFCA pastor. They said that the change from “Baptist” in the name wasn’t changing the school from a Baptist school, it was only to help international students. I wonder how many Baptist universities have an EFCA pastor as the chairman of their board. I have to admit I’m not knowledgeable on that front. Maybe there are some out there.

  4. T. Pennock says:


    I think it’s time for Les and friends to make a statement. And I think it’s also time for the evangelists and ministry teams associated with Northland to state their present relationship with the school.


  5. Robert says:

    [comment deleted by editor]

    Note: this poster used a fake email address. Who knows whether his/her name is Robert or Robin?

  6. Jeff Straub says:

    Ok, Don. Maybe it’s time to let NIU go. Until more facts are out, we really don’t know why happened. What is to be gained by pounding on them more? From the current status of things, they did what they had to to try to save the school. Things will never be the same. Let it go.

    • Fair enough Jeff. I assume that means you will no longer be commenting on any of the NI”U” threads on SI, right?

      Don Johnson

  7. Matthew Patz says:

    Hey Don,
    Whats are the reasons for a article like this? To inform or to bash a God-honoring ministry? Im assuming you have not been on the campus to realize how on fire the student body and faculty is. You worry about your ministry and whatever that consists of. Northland either way will be blessed by God even if that means that a blogger decides to spend his day gossiping about its decisions.

    • Matthew,

      Thank you for commenting. I haven’t been on the campus for some time, but the “spirit” of the students is no measure of a school and its spirituality.

      In this piece I am expressing my opinions about what the recent shenanigans in Dunbar mean. However, I think I will now follow my friend Jeff’s advice and give it a rest. I am quite confident that bizarre things will continue to occur in the woods of Wisconsin.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  8. Brian says:

    Okay, for all those prickly people out there, I’m just using catch phrases here with no undertones, overtones intended.
    I find it interesting that over the past couple of months all of a sudden there are younger Patz family members coming out of the woodwork (read my first sentence please) to voice their praise and support of the new direction which NIU has been on for several years now. As you follow some of these men you find that they are entrenched in what NIU is becoming, evangelical. The grandsons, Daniel Patz and Don Sailer moved away from the moorings of fundamentalism that they received at NBBC and BJU (Don Sailer matriculated to BJU in 1981 as a sophomore). Daniel pastors an EFCA church which is itself part of the NAE, clearly a self-identified evangelical. There would be only one reason they would like what they see at NIU, it is looking like them, evangelical.
    This has been so sad to witness.

  9. Keith says:

    I have no connection to NIU, and maybe it is a “Sham” school. Of course, it may be that all of what are often called “our schools” are and have always been “Sham” schools.

    And, if we’re going to talk about whiplash well then I’m not sure how the prize for that goes to any place other than BJU. Let’s see, Interracial dating is wrong — oops no it’s not; Women need to wear hats to worship on Sunday — oops, no they don’t; Beards represent rebellion and association with the world — oops, no they don’t; Intercollegiate sports are bad — oops, no they aren’t; And, the list could go on.

    Institutional change is inevitable and often good. The key is how do institutions implement change. I do agree with you that there’s a lot of spinning and institutional amnesia in how “our schools” implement change (who can forget Bob III’s “this rule that we never talk about” reference to a rule he fought for all the way to the Supreme Court?). They ought to just speak straight.

    Of course, when you are working with a subculture that has been taught that change is always compromise and will always result in liberalism, it’s pretty tough to implement any change at all without arousing all kinds of shooting from the peanut gallery. That being the case, if any of “our schools” are going to travel the road from sham to legitimate, they may just find that the road looks a lot like this pot hole infested trail that NIU’s been navigating.

    • Keith, as usual, you miss the point. I don’t know if that is purposeful or not.

      The ‘whiplash’ I refer to is the “now you’re fired, now you’re hired” back and forth. The Mickey Mouse operation I criticize is the Patz family over-ruling the board and showing their school to be little more than a family play thing, not really a serious attempt at providing an educational institution.

      But by all means, continue on in your obfuscation. It’s what you do best.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      PS: Keith, just an additional note, I’ve given you one comment, you are just being argumentative as usual, and I’ll not give you any additional comments. I’m not interested in an argument. If you want to say more, get your own blog. It’s easy enough to do.