Monthly Archives: May 2012

SHORTER LIBRARIAN PREPARES TO LEAVE, WOULD LOVE TO STAY

UPDATE: Michael Wilson’s plight has drawn national attention. Inside Higher Ed is the most widely read academic journal on the web.

The following article appeared in last Sunday’s edition of the Rome News-Tribune, and is reproduced here with permission.

Shorter librarian prepares to leave, would love to stay
by Kim Sloan, staff writer

For 14 years Michael Wilson has worked at a job he loves as the off-campus librarian for professional studies at Shorter University.

That job is threatened by a new policy the university is enacting requiring all staff and faculty to sign a Faith and Personal Lifestyle statement in which they agree, among other things, to “reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality.”

Wilson is gay. School officials never asked him about his lifestyle when he was hired on April 20, 1998, which is also his father’s birthday, he said. But he thinks they probably knew when he was tenured in 2006.

Wilson signed his contract, but he marked out portions of the statement and sent it to the provost. He also sent a letter to Shorter University President Donald Dowless.

“I believe, for reasons that should be obvious, that the provisions therein constitute a grave violation of the principles of academic freedom and tenure, core values in academe that were formerly embraced by the university’s administration,” Wilson said in his letter. “I am aware of your intent to dismiss anyone, regardless of tenure status, who may express any disagreement with these provisions. Nevertheless, I would like to appeal to you, as a fellow academic, to reverse this significant departure from academic norms by creating an atmosphere in which faculty may teach, and students may learn, without these ideological restrictions.”

If a staff member doesn’t sign the statement of faith, their employment will not continue, according to Dawn Tolbert, Shorter University spokeswoman.

That leaves Wilson with the real possibility that he will be without a job in the next few weeks. But he plans to fight for the job he has loved so much, he said.

It’s a small department, he said, and it has given him a chance to do “a lot of everything,” he said.

“I’ve been everything from janitor to head librarian,” Wilson said. “I’ve learned so much and I made this job my own.”

Shorter University’s handbook states that, “tenure is the reasonable expectation of continued employment on an annual instructional term basis as long as, and only as long as: 1) The tenured faculty member does not breach his/her current contract or any subsequent annual instructional term contract; 2) Shorter is financially able to continue to employ the tenured faculty member; and 3) There is sufficient demand at Shorter to justify the need for performance by the tenured faculty member in his/her particular field.”

While as of today Wilson still works for Shorter, his name is on a list provided by the website SaveOurShorter.com of 53 staff and faculty members who have left or are expected to leave the university this year, mainly because of the faith statement passed by the Board of Trustees last October.

When asked if the number was accurate, Tolbert said in an email, “We don’t have a final number on who is leaving yet; faculty contracts are still out. We are interviewing for positions that are open and will announce new hires as they are finalized.”

Wilson hopes there is a way he could stay.

“I genuinely care about the library, my students, and the well-being of the university, and I am concerned that my sudden departure would create hardship for all involved,” he said in his letter to Dowless.

Read more: RN-T.com – Shorter librarian prepares to leave would love to stay

SHORTER’S BROKE, ROME MUST HELP FIX IT

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 outwww.saveourshorter.com 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: RN-T.com – GUEST COLUMN Shorter s broke Rome must help fix it

HAIL AND FAREWELL, REDUX

The members and supporters of  SaveOurShorter.com extend to the following  departing faculty and staff our love and abiding appreciation for their selfless dedication and outstanding service to Shorter University

UPDATE – June 16, 2012

Shorter Departure #67
Mr. Allen Dutch
Instructor of Communication
Advisor SC49
8 years of service

Shorter Departure #66
Mr. Brian Taylor
Chair, Department of Art, Professor of Art
16 years of service

 

UPDATE – June 13, 2012

Departure #65
Dr. John Head
Vice President of Enrollment Management
10+ years of service
Shorter Class of 1987

Departure #64
Dawn Garrett, Director of Accounting Services
6 years of service

UPDATE – June 5, 2012

 Departure # 63.

Ms. Laura McRaney
Director of International Programs
6 years of service

Departure #62.

Dr. Christopher Brown
Asst. Professor of Biology
Freshman Lab Coordinator

Departure #61

Nickie Nicholson
Administrative Assistant
of Choral and Recruitment
Activities

UPDATE – May 25, 2012

Mr Chet Holloman                                                                                                        Adjunct Professor College of Business – Business Ethics; Conflict Resolution         Registered Mediator                                                                                                               8 years of service

_________________________________________________________

Mr. Chris Crawford
Asst. Professor of Theatre
Technical Director, Lighting Designer
5 years of service

Mr. Richard Bristow
Asst. Professor of Theatre, Set Designer
12 years of service

Ms. Suzanne Scott
Former Acting V.P.
Institutional Advancement
10 years of service
Shorter Class of 1974

Ms. Stephanie Graves
Formerly of the Office of Institutional Advancement – Foundation Relations
7 years of service

Mr. Josh Severns
Former Head Coach, Soccer
5 years of service

Dr. Thenius Van Aardt
Associate Professor of Physics & Chemistry
Chemical Hygiene Engineer
9 years of service

Dr. Matthew Hoch
Asst. Professor of Music (Voice)
Vocal Coordinator
6 years of service

Dr. Martha Shaw
Director of Choral Activities
Professor of Music
13 years of service
Shorter Class of 1980

Mr. Ben Harris
Instructor of Accompanying
Vocal Coach
4 years of service

Dr. Rebecca Salter
Asst. Professor of Music (Voice)
2 years of service

Mr. Ross Green
Formerly Information Technology Specialist
2 years of service

Mr. Mark Tunnell
Former Director of Alumni Relations
Former Asst. Director of Admissions
6 years of service
Shorter Class of 1990

Ms. Sheila Byron
Formerly Human Resources Facilitator
8 years of service

Mr. Jamie Clements
Former Asst. Director of Alumni Relations
1 year of service
Shorter Class of 2005

Ms. Shelly Fleming
Biology Lab Coordinator Asst.
2 years of service
Shorter class of 2010

Dr. Peter DeWitt
Professor of Music (Organ)
37 years of service

Dr. Patricia DeWitt
Asst. V.P.
Planning & Institutional Effectiveness
24 years of service

Dr. Danny Davis
Professor of Mathematics
36 years of service

Dr. Jennifer Davis
Professor of Biology
36 years of service

Dr. Robert Turner
Asst. Professor of Spanish
7 years of service

Ms. Michelle Turner
Asst. Registrar
6 years of service

Mr. Jonathan Mitchell
Formerly Information Technology
3 years of service
Shorter Class of 2009

Mr. Dennis Waddell
Formerly Facilities Management
6 years of service

Mr. David Bridges
Formerly Facilities Management
4 years of service

Dr. David Nisbet
Chair, Theatre Department
Assistant Professor of Theatre
3 years of service

Dr. Sherri Weiler
Associate Professor of Music (Voice)
8 years of service

Ms. Carol Atkins
Formerly Human Resources
4 years of service
Shorter Class of 2007 & 2010

Dr. Chuck Chandler
Asst. Professor of Music (Voice)
3 years of service

Dr. Sandra Leslie
Dean, School of Education
Director of Teacher Education
Professor of Education
6 years of service

Ms. Jill Gable
Formerly Financial Aid
4 years of service
Shorter Class of 2008

Mr. Jay Stephenson
Head Cross Country Coach
5 years of service

Dr. Chuck Wynn
Professor of History & Education
Liaison to the School of Education
6 years of service

Ms. Crystal Edenfield
Formerly Financial Aid Processor
1 year of service

Mr. Ben Reigel
Asst. Professor of Theatre
3 years of service

Ms. Georgie Hall
Instructor of Dance, Choreographer
15 years of service

Dr. Melissa Hickman
Asst. Professor of Accounting
6 years of service

Mr. Richard Pirkle
Asst. Professor of Biology
6 years of service

Dr. Steve Carney
Asst. Professor of Sport Management
2 years of service

Ms. Suzanne Nelms
Formerly Student Services Advisor
4 years of service

Dr. Barbara Finn
Dean, College of Adult & Professional Programs
10 years of service

Dr. Craig Allee
Frank Barron Jr. Professor of Biology
Dean, School of Sciences and Mathematics
44 years of service
Shorter Class of 1963

Dr. Vanice Roberts
Dean of Nursing
Professor of Nursing
4 years of service

Ms. Ann Hook
Asst. Professor, School of Nursing
2 years of service

Ms. Pamela Dunagan
Asst. Professor, School of Nursing
4 years of service

Ms. Tanya Naguszewski
Asst. Professor, School of Nursing
1 year of service

Mr. Michael Wilson
Off-Campus Librarian, Professional Studies
14 years of service

Ms. Rebecca Roberts
Director, Shorter University Museum & Archives
4 years of service

Mr. Jimmy Rosato
Football Coach
4 years of service

Dr. Sarah Cantrell
Asst. Professor of English and French
1 year of service

Dr. Richard Bray
Asst. Professor of Christian Studies
5 years of service

Ms. Liesl Bold
Evening Library Asst.
3 years of service

Ms. Anita Clayton
Formerly Registrar’s Office
12 years of service

Dr. Roxy Lowry Swalls
Asst. Professor of Chemistry
1 year of service

Dr. Neville Y. Formelu
Asst. Professor of Chemistry
1 year of service

Dr. Jennell Talley
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
1 year of service
Shorter Class of 2002

Dr. Ron Tarlton
Professor of Accounting
11 years of service

Mr. Richard Gillert
Assistant Librarian
2 years of service

Dr. Sam Baltzer
Director of Institutional Activities
Professor of Music
25 years of service

Dr. Dixon McLeod
Asst. Director,
Center for Teacher Preparation
3 years of service

Anonymous
Faculty Member
15 years of service

All information contained herein was compiled from publicly available sources.

HAIL AND FAREWELL

On Friday, May 4, the latest graduates of Shorter University will participate in a traditional graduation ceremony to mark their transition from college to work. One part of this ceremony involves the students marching through the exit gates in front of the Sheffield-Thompson building, on which the words, “Go Forth to Serve” are inscribed. While we hope that our new graduates will indeed be inspired to serve others in humane ways, it seems ironic that another departing contingent, whose members have served the present institution faithfully for decades, is being ushered out quite unceremoniously. We are referring, of course, to those whose consciences will not allow them to remain at our good school. To these brave men and women, the following is respectfully dedicated.

 “But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
― George Eliot, Middlemarch

When I look back on my time at Shorter, I can’t help but fondly remember those who were perhaps the most important part of my education: my teachers. I was a student in the School of Fine Arts, and it seemed at times that we students were so busy with classes, recitals, shows, concerts, and any number of other activities that we barely left those buildings. We were there at all hours of the day and night because we were learning. Beyond learning the basic standards for an education in the arts, we wanted relevant artistic experience – and we got just that. The school’s reputation was built upon its incredible artistic integrity. To gain admission to a school that provided so many opportunities to perform in such high caliber situations was something we knew was special. What we didn’t anticipate was the depth of personal dedication that the faculty and staff members would show us.

I wasn’t the most accomplished music student when I came in to Shorter. I had a natural talent and a willingness to learn, but there was a lot of work to be done. I’d never taken voice lessons before college, so my voice teacher literally had to build my technique from the ground up. He required me to sing in front of our studio class (which was not an easy feat for a girl who had never really done much solo singing, let alone solo singing in a foreign language). With a good dose of encouragement (and certainly a good amount of “tough love”!), he made me the singer I am today.

My teacher’s dedication was not limited to regular business hours. He went from competition to competition with me. He was there for every single recital. He even volunteered to teach a summer course of music theory when a few of us (literally, the minimum number of students allowed to constitute a summer class) needed to pass it in order to be able to graduate within four years. I remember seeing him in the computer lab as late as midnight and beyond, transcribing music from scores so that a show in the musical theater department could happen. He even came to First Baptist in Rome and sat right alongside my family when I was baptized. His dedication to my academic success, my artistic integrity, and my life was evident.  The thing is, he wasn’t the only one. Many, many more faculty members than just this particular one generously gave their time. They taught full days from 8 a. m. until 5 p. m., and then more often than not they spent their evenings at the school running rehearsals, building sets, giving recitals, and supporting their students in performance. I left an undergraduate program with training that literally made schools and employers sit up and listen, but more than that, I left with an enriched life and a group of educators who were now my mentors and my family.

This Friday’s Commencement marks not only the graduation of the 2012 class of Shorter University, but also the departure of so many members of the faculty and staff at every campus. Thus far, 54 employees, whose combined years of service totals an amazing 432 years, have chosen to leave rather than sign the Personal Lifestyle Statement. At this point, there are likely to be more who choose to leave. This is not surprising; results of the recent poll of Shorter employees indicated that this was coming. Eighty-nine percent of the employees who responded to this survey did not agree with Dr. Donald Dowless and the direction in which he is taking Shorter University, and voted no confidence in his administration. Sixty-five percent plan on resigning at some point, and 75 percent – read that, 75 percent of Shorter University employees – are opposed to signing the Statement.

While there are many faculty and staff members who are choosing to leave, there are others who are staying on and who will, however reluctantly, sign the Statement. Some are too close to retirement to try to find a job elsewhere; signing the Statement is the only way to keep their jobs and make it to retirement. Some have tried very hard to find other jobs, but in the current  market they cannot. Signing the Statement, while it goes against every fiber of their being, is the only way they can be sure that they’ll be able to put food on their families’ tables. Some are staying to see their remaining students through the end of their college careers; signing the Statement is the only way to ensure the educational integrity of their degrees. What is increasingly evident is that the vast majority of employees who are staying at Shorter do not want to sign this Statement. For whatever individual reason, they cannot simply leave their jobs, and so they must pretend to buy into the whole ludicrous situation in which they find themselves, thanks to Dr. Donald Dowless.

Throughout this awful year, each member of the faculty and staff has supported their students. They have walked with their heads high, and they have had to make some incredibly tough decisions.  For the employees who are staying on at Shorter, whether it be for your own well-being or for the well-being of your students or department, we wish to thank you. Your decision could not have been an easy one to make, and there isn’t a single person here who would wish to be in your position. Thank you for making the difficult decisions, and know that you are in our prayers. For the 54 faculty and staff members who have decided to move on, we wish you well and thank you for your dedication. Your show of integrity for what is best for yourselves, for your families, and for Shorter University has not been overlooked. You have given so much of your time to ensure that the integrity of Shorter is intact. We particularly understand that sometimes in order to save something you love, you must be willing to walk away from it. We see that, and we thank you. You will be missed.

Jamie Barton