The following guest column appeared in last Sunday’s edition of the Rome News-Tribune, and is republished here by permission.

GUEST COLUMN: Shorter’s broke, Rome must help fix it
by BETTY ZANE MORRIS, Guest Columnist

BEFORE MY CHURCH had even begun last Sunday, I’d had half a dozen people ask me if I’d seen the Rome News-Tribune’s editorial, “Mostly sad for Rome,” and comment on how good it was. One said, “They came out with guns blazing!” When I was able to get home to read it for myself, I found it to be as forthright as they said, and even chilling, as we think about the devastating impact on our beloved institution, the churches, businesses, education, and all the others affected by the impending doom.

While I loudly applaud last Sunday’s editorial I would suggest that the author reexamine the statement that next fall’s enrollment figures “are likely to be roughly the same.” While it is true that we won’t really know until fall, we must consider that entire departments are practically decimated because of the requirements being forced upon faculty and staff by the current GBC administration.

For example, the School of Nursing has lost all but two of its faculty, leaving two relatively inexperienced faculty to continue the program. How will they be able to find the qualified people to restaff this program, who are also willing to sign the required Personal Lifestyle Statements? If they can’t be found, what will happen to the more than 150 the students who are enrolled in it?

The Sciences, at the foundation of the strong premed and nursing programs, will lose 7 out of 12 faculty, who are leaving after this spring. With more than 200 majors, and more faculty losses expected, how will this department be staffed fully enough to teach students in those programs and others?

How do faculty and student losses in Nursing and the Sciences affect Rome’s medical community?

ANOTHER EXAMPLE, of course, is in the School of the Arts programs. This week, a source in the Music Department revealed that last fall’s enrollment of vocal students was 83 and, of that number, only 10 plan to return next year. Of the music and theatre faculty, 12 out of 20 will be leaving. Lost will be the glorious sounds of the Shorter Chorale under Dr. Martha Shaw’s direction. Lost will be the numbers of music faculty and students who directed and enhanced the music programs of our churches. Lost will be the delight of theatrical productions that have amazed and challenged us.

How do losses in the Fine Arts affect Rome’s cultural, church and arts community?

Another example of loss is in the School of Professional Programs which, in fact, did contribute greatly to enrollment increase over the past 15 years, but now is itself suffering a significant decline (down over 300 students) in enrollment due, in part, to the inability of businesses to pay for their students to enroll in it and, now, the forced signing of “the papers”, as they’ve come to be known. The School of Business on the hill is expecting a loss of 20% or more of faculty and students for next year.

How do losses of faculty and students in these areas affect Rome’s business community? How does the loss of these numbers of individuals affect the economy of Rome and Floyd County?

IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT to note that four of the seven Deans are not returning. They are from the School of Nursing, the School of Education, the School of the Sciences, and the School of Professional Programs, leaving those programs void of the valuable leadership they have provided.

These aren’t the only losses of faculty and students — just some of the more visible ones.

What will happen when 88 percent of the highly qualified faculty who responded in the faculty survey early this spring, leave, as they reported they would do as soon as jobs became available. If recognized, quality, qualified faculty aren’t there, why would students enroll?

What a gift Dr. Donald Dowless, Dr. Nelson Price and the GBC administrators have given to the schools and universities that are inheriting the excellent faculty and students from Shorter!

Another statement that caught my attention was “Supporters of ‘Shorter as it used to be’ can probably rely on Greater Romans to help them try to catch the school if the GBC some day abandons it.”

We need to ask “Why is the community waiting until abandonment by GBC to do anything?” Why do most of the people comment on how sad the situation is, sigh resignedly, and do nothing? Do we, as a people, give up so easily?

I CONTEND that, if the current situation is any indication of Greater Romans support, it isn’t so likely that we can rely on them. I’ve been astonished that more people in Rome and surrounding communities, who have no direct connection to Shorter, haven’t spoken out. Do they not realize that there is hardly a business or institution in Rome that doesn’t have Shorter graduates in responsible positions in their employment pool? There appears to be a blind eye among most regarding the gravity of the situation for Rome’s economy, not to mention all the other facets of a community, should the institution decrease significantly in size or, God forbid, fail. There have been many letters to the editor, articles and editorials but, I believe if a count were done, a majority of these have come from alumni, current students and former faculty, not from concerned, informed citizens of Rome.

As you may know, there are some groups under the radar who are fighting vigorously for Shorter to return to the shining example of higher education that has been built since its humble, Christian beginnings at First Baptist Church in Rome in 1873. Check to see how you might join in this battle. I hope and pray that these staunch defenders of the Shorter we knew and loved will be successful.

THERE’S an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Shorter was Christian, thriving and unbroken until the GBC took over. Soon cracks began to appear, which have now become a huge chasm. Now it is “broke.” Let’s fix it!

Betty Zane Morris of Rome taught at Shorter College for 46 years, serving on the faculty and as department chair of Communication.

Read more: – GUEST COLUMN Shorter s broke Rome must help fix it


  1. Excellent article. Thank you, Mrs. Morris.

  2. Frustrated Citizen

    I’m not sure if this article makes me want to throw up or cry. There was a time when I respected BZM, and even sat in her class. I really thought she How in the world is it wrong for a CHRISTIAN SCHOOL to require ONLY THE STAFF to sign a statement that they will not live in sin knowingly???? Jesus absolutely loved the Woman at the Well, and He forgave her. But then two things happened: He told her to GO AND SIN NO MORE, and He did not put her in a position of leadership. Now, if the students were asked to sign, that would be shunning people, in my opinion…because EVERYONE deserves to learn about Christ’s love and EVERYONE deserves to attend, so that maybe they will develop a personal relationship with Christ…but everyone does not need a position of leadership. Would you sit under a pastor who practiced the things mentioned in the Lifestyle Agreement? Most would say, no. And it is the same with students…they should be sitting in class with men and women who lead by example and live by EVERY part of the Word of God…not just the easy ones. As a parent (and Shorter graduate), I would NOT want my children taught non-Christian beliefs. How in the WORLD is it bad to ask a LEADER in the Christian sect to abstain from adultery, fornication, and homosexuality??? The leaders chosen by Christ were not living in open sin!!!! He loved them all…yes. But He didn’t choose them to teach/lead while they were sinning. When they did fall into sin, He allowed them to repent and keep on leading. KEYWORD: REPENT. Shorter is a CHRISTIAN institution. I have been embarrassed for YEARS that the homosexuality and rampant sin was tolerated! I thank our Precious Lord for people who make the difficult choices, to get our school on track. The little First Baptist Church of the 1800s would be APPALLED that such sin was ever allowed.

    To those who have quit or plan to quit Shorter: your other choice is to repent and stay. Be the man or woman that is lives by the Bible, whom God has called you to be. I can’t IMAGINE how anyone would believe that Jesus Himself would ever be of the same mindset on this issue. I am praying for you all. Going to a left-wing college may be in your best interest, to teach, where you have like-minded people. Why in the WORLD would anyone try to continue to corrupt a Christian institution???


    • Editor’s Note: An individual who wished to remain anonymous requested that we publish this reply:

      Dear Concerned Citizen,

      I think you are missing the point of Betty Zane’s Article. The question is not about homosexuality being sin but is about legalism over relationship with Christ. It is about a group of individuals being more concerned with the appearance of being Christian by following man made rules rather than the words written in the Bible. I would remind you that under the new rules, Jesus himself could not teach at Shorter because he drank wine. No one is the judge and jury of what is going on in someone’s heart. Professors at Shorter have always been required to sign a statement of faith; who are you to judge that they are not Christians? This disagreement is about treating the people who made Shorter what it is like last night’s trash! It is about tenured professors losing years of what they have worked for without prior knowledge or input regarding the lifestyle statements. The turmoil at Shorter is about these same people not being informed of how a complaint against them for not following the guidelines would be handled. The problem is people have made this a homosexual issue when it is how should people be treated issue.

      This is the beginning of a slippery slope. You commented that students shouldn’t have to sign the agreement. It is my contention that if this continues they eventually will have to sign such a pledge. It is my understanding that plays and musicals have already been stopped due to content and students were told they cannot walk across campus in their bathing suits after swimming in the pool.

      Shorter is in deep trouble. It will take a very long time to recover from the losses of experience and knowledge that she is being dealt! As an alumni, I am sickened by what is happening not because I am pro homosexuality but because I am pro -education , pro- fairness and pro- Shorter.

  3. Have the progressive churches in Rome bring Giberson and Stephens of The Anointed to town this fall. Would be great sanity for this mess

  4. Jonathan Luttrell

    First, Frustrated Citizen, I would caution you in accusing people of sin. If I remember correctly, THAT was Jesus’ lesson with the woman caught in adultery (which is the narrative I THINK you’re citing.)

    Secondly, if you find somewhere in Scripture where “homosexuality” as practiced in ALL ITS FORMS in the present day is sinful, then I will eat my hat. Scholars have argued for years regarding the texts cited as “condemning homosexuality.” Most of the Old Testament passages that speak of the issue reside in a purity code which was meant, not as sin management, but as a way to set Israel apart for ritual cleanliness for temple worship! Alongside these codes were a variety of others that are ignored in present day. I need not list them all here. The New Testament passages are somewhat more convoluted, simply because we lack knowledge of authorship in the Paulean letters. IF Paul wrote these letters, he uses a completely NEW WORD to describe what we generally, and ignorantly label “homosexuality.” While its true meaning is agreed to be AMBIGUOUS at best, many translate it as a condemnation of temple prostitution, specifically with young boys! To misappropriate these passages to apply to monogamous, committed homosexual partners is a gross misinterpretation of Scripture at best, and slander at worst.

    Claiming “certainty” that homosexuality (as it is practiced today) is a sin is a practice that is based in TRADITION, and not in biblical doctrine. Other practices that are similarly based in and supported by tradition were: the selling of indulgences, the Crusades, slavery, etc. When we look back at this ugly civil warring in 20 years, will we be ashamed of how far from true biblical teaching we have come?

  5. Frustrated Citizen

    Wow. Look, we’re all sinners, saved by Jesus. No sin is worse than another. One’s bad thought is just as bad as another’s adultery. But the Lifestyle Agreement asks us to try not to sin (any sexual acts outside of marriage). It is not even ultra-conservative in the fact that it says not to drink IN PUBLIC or IN FRONT OF STUDENTS. It doesn’t even ask people to abstain from alcohol. There are a zillion places in the world where these behaviors are accepted. Why try to force these liberal views on a private, Christian institution?

  6. Jonathan Luttrell

    Well you’re making the assumption that a homosexual, however you define that, is having sex outside of marriage!

    And lets take a look at “biblical marriage,” as instituted in the Old Testament. Hebrews were often given away in arrangements which had little to do with “love” or “romance,” and everything to do with land, money, property and politics. Marriages most often happened with the two to be married have just come “of age,” around the age of 12 and 13! By today’s standards, children getting married at that age would be “abomination,” and we would rather not think of what they would do after marriage!

    The implications of taking Levitical law specifically, and other Scripture generally, out of context are often times beyond our ability to fully understand or to judge.

  7. Savannah Hill

    I am a student at Samford University, which if you don’t know is a private Baptist university in Birmingham. It has been interesting to follow the recent events at Shorter with the whole “the papers” issue. After attending Samford for the last four years, I think I have enough experience and have interacted with enough of the faculty and staff of Samford to say that, for the most part, they live up to what a “good Christian” leader should be. While we have a dry campus and the professors aren’t allowed to drink [or be seen drinking] with the students, they don’t have to sign anything stating their beliefs. Since Samford has been ranked in Forbes top schools in the US, I would venture to say that the faculty are pretty good. If, however, the faculty was forced to sign a statement of beliefs, it would cause many of them to leave– even the ones that may believe in everything the statement says– for the same reasons that many are leaving Shorter. The anonymous writer aptly stated that this is more legalistic. If you will remember back with me for a minute, think about Jesus’ reaction to the “rules” of the Jewish temple. I’m referring to the ‘healing on the Sabbath’ issue. How did the leaders become so concerned with following the “rules” that they stopped caring about people?
    Making more rules is hardly ever the answer.

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