Monthly Archives: June 2012

IS THE BIBLE INERRANT?

UPDATE: Our thanks to Bob Allen at Associated Baptist Press for covering this story.

On June 24, 2012 Dr. Wm. Richard Kremer of Garden Lakes Baptist Church in Rome, GA. preached a powerful message on Biblical inerrancy. So few pastors have spoken out against the fallacy of the Shorter administration’s Personal Lifestyle Statement, we felt compelled to contact Dr. Kremer and ask his permission to share this message with our readers. He graciously agreed and sent us the manuscript of the sermon as well. Dr. Kremer points the Way to Truth and Light.

You may also watch the sermon by clicking here.

Thank you, Dr. Kremer, for your wisdom, your courage and for speaking the truth.

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Is the Bible Inerrant?                    Mark 16: 1-8; Luke 24: 1- 9

 Few words in the last thirty years have caused more mischief than the little adjective “inerrant.”  “Inerrant” would seem to be a perfectly fine word that when applied to the Scriptures appears to guarantee the authenticity and accuracy of the Bible.  Yet I tell you plainly, the word “inerrant” has been misused and manipulated.   Indeed, it would be fair to say that the sundering and destruction of the Southern Baptist Convention could be attributed to the manipulation of this single word – inerrant.   This word has in fact done horrendous damage to the character of the Bible – and ruined countless lives.  The cause of Christ is being damaged by its use even now.  Yet “inerrant” continues to be employed frequently with reference to the Bible, usually by those who do not understand its implications.   Not surprisingly, Shorter University’s new “Statement of Faith,” begins with the declaration, “We believe the Bible . . . is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.”   My question to those who penned that document is, “What do you mean by that term?”

Some years ago, the late Adrian Rogers, one of the architects of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC, was asked exactly that question:  “What does inerrancy mean?”   He answered:  “It means the Bible is truth without mixture of error historically, philosophically, scientifically and theologically.”  The conservative scholar Paul Feinberg has offered a fuller exposition.  He said that inerrancy is the claim that “when all of the facts of are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be without error in all that they affirm to the degree of precisions intended, whether that affirmation relates to doctrine, history, science, geography, geology, etc.”  Give these gentlemen their due:  they were at least crystal clear in their definitions.  But they were making claims about the Bible that the Bible does not make for itself.

Simply put, the Bible is not a history book.  It certainly contains history – a lot of history, in fact – but the  Bible’s history concerns the history of humanity’s encounter with God and with the revelation of God in Christ.  The Bible does not intend to offer a chronicle of historical events in the same way an account of the American Civil War is a history book.   The Bible is not a philosophy book. It contains philosophy – the book of Ecclesiastes, for example, has been hailed as one of the most incisive philosophical statements ever penned.  But the Bible’s purpose is not to articulate any particular philosophy.  The Bible is not a science book. Those who assert that the Bible is correct in its teachings on geology grossly misinterpret the Bible’s purpose.  The writers of the Scripture had no idea that some endeavor of inquiry called geology existed!  The Bible makes but one clear and profound statement about the world:  that God is the origin of all creation — in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth — and all reality owes God a debt for the gift of its existence.   But the Bible has absolutely no interest in offering a scientific explanation for how God brought this heaven and earth into being. The Bible says WHO created the universe.  It offers no explanation as to HOW this process of creation occurred.  Anyone who doubts the veracity of this observation need only examine the first two chapters of Genesis.  In the creation account of Genesis, chapter one, God creates everything in the world, then creates humanity last.  In Genesis, chapter two, God creates humanity first, then creates the remainder of the natural order.  The brilliant editor who brought those two accounts into one sacred text was fully aware of the discrepancies in the accounts – but he did not care!  He was not offering a scientific explanation for how reality came to be; he was simply offering the theological observation that all that is owes its life unto God.  When you try to turn the Bible into a scientific text, you misuse God’s word.

You might be wondering, ‘Dr. Kremer, why does it matter?  Why even bring this topic to the fore?’   Because it matters how you use the Bible.  I don’t want young people thinking they have to discard their faith because some scientist has made a discovery that seems to contradict some Biblical principle.  I don’t want a scientist having to put his/her brain on ice because his/her discoveries contradict what the Bible allegedly teaches about one scientific discipline or another.  A recent science professor at a local university had to leave his faculty post, complaining that the administration had instructed him on what theories concerning creation he ought to teach – even though there was no empirical data to support their claims.  Why would administrators with no scientific training be trying to teach scientists how to teach science?  Because, they think of the Bible as a scientific book that reveals to us the age of the earth as only six thousand years old.  (Looking out on the congregation, I suspect some of ya’ll are older than that!)  Essentially, this college administrator was instructing his scientist to turn a blind eye to the fossil records, to ignore the evidence of geological shifts and continental drifts, to pay no attention to the pottery shards – all of which make the point that six thousand years is but a sliver of human existence on this earth, much less the history of the earth as a whole.  Again, let’s be clear on this point: when you try to turn the Bible into a science book, you misuse God’s Word.

Why do people try to regard the Bible as a science text or a philosophy book or a history book?  It is because they hold to a particular view of Biblical inspiration, a perspective that says the Bible came into being through plenary verbal inspiration.  Succinctly expressed,  the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration says, “God said it, and humanity wrote it down.”  (Incidentally, that is how Muslims view the Koran as having come into being.) There are a few passages in the Bible that suggest plenary verbal inspiration.  For example, God dictates to Moses the Ten Commandments and Moses writes them down.  But think of something as simple as Psalm 16.  God would have to be pretty egotistical to be dictating to David, “Praise the Lord!  O give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever!”   Can you imagine God dictating unto David in Psalm 121:  “I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From whence does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  Surely God is not so insecure as to bother dictating words of praise about Himself for us to write down?  When the Psalmist exclaims “The Lord is my shepherd,” he is giving evidence that he has experienced the living God profoundly in the midst of his life.  His spirit swells up with joy so he can share his experience of God with others.  He is not simply recording a speech that God dictates into his head

Go back to the argument that scholar Feinberg offered regarding inerrancy:  the Bible is inerrant in its original autographs.  That’s very convenient.  For no one has never seen the Bible’s original autographs.  Do you know why?  They don’t exist!   There is not some dusty original Biblical manuscript hiding in some obscure cave in Israel.  The Bible came into being over a period of centuries.  Its pages originated in diverse places and in diverse times.  The Old Testament existed in oral tradition for centuries, passed down from generation to generation before it was ever recorded in print.  When it was printed it was preserved in a variety of places in a variety of versions.  There is no such thing as an original autograph for the Bible, and to claim such a manuscript is the basis for the inerrancy of Scripture is intellectually dishonest.  ‘

So, when the Shorter University statement of faith declares, “We believe in the inerrant and infallible Word of God,” is that true?  Yes – yes, in a way.  For when the Bible is talking about the character of God, the Bible is indeed inerrant.  When the Bible is talking about the nature of redemption, the Bible is absolutely infallible.  When the Bible is presenting the revelation of God in Christ, we can trust that information with perfect confidence – for such is precisely the Bible’s purpose.  It is for these matters the Bible is intended to be used and consulted.   The Bible is a book about redemption, and on this point the Bible is indeed inerrant.   During one of our Vacation Bible School convocations a couple of weeks ago, our children’s minister Susan West-Colding asked the children why we did a pledge to the Bible.  A young voice answered, “Because it tells us about God.”  Yes!  Yes!  The Bible tells us about God, tells us about redemption, tells us about the love of Christ and how to live in right relationship with the divine.  On that score the Scriptures are pristine and true.

But these subjects are concerned with an entirely different ambit than geology or geography!

Ponder for a moment the texts I read to you this morning.  Think on the four versions of the resurrection.  There is not a lot of difference among them as to who goes to the tomb:  Matthew says “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary,” Mark says, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome.  Luke adds the name of Joanna to the list.  John mentions only Mary Magdalene.  But who meets the women there?  Matthew says an angel met them inside the tomb.  Mark mentions no angel but speaks of a young man dressed in a white robe.  Luke says that two men dressed in dazzling apparel were there to greet them.  John testifies that Mary Magdalene didn’t even enter the tomb, and the only one who met her there was Jesus.  In Mark’s account the women leave the empty tomb and don’t tell anyone what they have heard.  In Luke’s account they go straightway and tell their news, but the apostles don’t believe them.

My point to you is this: it is precisely these small details of difference that undermine the concept of inerrancy.  If God were dictating to writers the record of something as important as the resurrection, God wouldn’t be dictating differing versions to different writers.  God wouldn’t have been giving conflicting accounts.  Each writer reflects the different traditions, witnesses and influences to which he was exposed.  The truth is, none of these accounts may have matters exactly right.  But all four accounts are exactly right on their main point:  God raised Jesus from the dead!  All four accounts are right in saying that our God is a God of resurrection power, and that we live in hope because our God through Christ has defeated death.  The fact that one version of the resurrection speaks of one angel and one version speaks of one man and one version speaks of two men and one version speaks of none  — such niggling differences do not matter to the authenticity and importance of the message.  The message is, our God is a God of resurrection power through whom we have hope beyond death.  On this point the Scriptures are infallible.

 I tell you plainly, you can find differences in the Scriptures, even with regard to the same event.  For example, in Matthew’s version of Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave, the centurion himself comes to Jesus to ask for healing help.  In Luke’s version of the same healing, the Jewish elders come on behalf of the centurion to ask Jesus for help with regard to his slave.  What really matters to the centurion’s slave is that Jesus had compassion on him and healed him.   According to Mark, Jesus is leaving Jericho when he encounters blind Bartimaeus.  In Luke,  Jesus is entering Jericho when he encounters blind Bartimaeus.   All that matters to blind Bartimaeus is that Jesus gave him his sight!  What matters to us is that Jesus gives us our sight and has compassion on us in our weakness and in our need.

The Bible is not a science book.  The Bible is not a history book. The Bible is not a philosophy book.  The Bible is a book that tells us about God.    Moreover, the Bible never claims perfection for its words.  The Bible claims perfection only for the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.    Indeed, the pledge that many of us have been making to the Bible since we were children in VBS years (or even decades ago) still holds true.   “I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and will hide its words in my heart, that I might not sin against God.”  That’s the Scriptures’ purpose and power.  When we have lost our way in life, the Word illumines our path.  When we are not sure how we should conduct ourselves, the Word is our lamp and our guide.   When we are desperate for a word of encouragement, the Word offers us the way and words of life.  And if we follow these words and hide them in our heart, they will lead us rightly.  Of that we can be certain.

Dr. Wm. Richard Kremer

June 24, 2012

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CHANGES

FACULTY DEPARTURE UPDATE:

#68: Dr. Katherine Weeks
Assistant Professor of Biology
1 year of service

#69: Dr. Kimberly A. Hays
Assistant Professor of Biology
1 year of service

ADJUNCT FACULTY
Dr. Joe Bill Campbell

UPDATE: We cannot keep up with Dr. Dowless’s new hires from his former schools. Mr. Corey Humphries, named in December as assistant dean of students for campus life at Charleston Southern University is joining Shorter. Mr. Humphries replaces Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Dr. Debra Faust, who has been transferred to the Atlanta Campus.

Dr. Faust has served Shorter ably for over 20 years. Mr. Humphries is a 2004 graduate of Charleston Southern and earned his Masters degree in Criminal Justice from Charleston Southern in 2009.

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Save Our Shorter does not normally comment on news releases from the Rome News-Tribune on new hires or organizational changes occurring at Shorter, however we do monitor such releases.

During the past several months we have noted new additions to the faculty and administration and have noted a troubling pattern.

  • Three of the past five hires -Executive Vice President (who is also the newly named Provost), Dean of the School of Education, and Vice President of Advancement, have come from either North Greenville University or Charleston Southern University or had close personal connection with one of the institutions. (Mr. Epting’s father is the president of North Greenville.) Both institutions are former employers of President Don Dowless and are schools closely affiliated with Shorter trustee Carlisle Driggers, who is former Executive Director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
  •  The new Assistant Professor of English, has no formal teaching experience and lists her former job on her LinkedIn profile as Secretary at the Southern Baptist School of Theology.
  •  The new HR Director? He serves as the youth pastor of Hurt Road Baptist Church in Smyrna- Nelson Price’s stomping grounds.

We read with dismay on RN-T of the consolidation of the School of Sciences and Mathematics and the College of Arts and Sciences. Surely Shorter would not realign the School to lessen the work of Dr. Craig Allee, and put it under the direction and control of a communication arts professor! As with the appointments noted above, however, Save Our Shorter had no intention of posting this change until we noticed that the article was at the top of RN-T’s Most Read Stories and had received over 800 views. Why would an article that would be ignored by most of the reading public draw that many views?

Then we read the comments that RN-T readers had posted.

A poster by the name of DisgruntledAlumni has posted some information about a flash mob that occurred in the Shorter dining hall this past spring. The poster provided a link to a YouTube video that was apparently shown on the Shorter internal TV channel. The link shows Dr. Sabrena Parton, the new Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and co-author and co-director of the new Christ Centered Critical Thinking initiative, leading a group of students in a flash mob.

In the video, students are dancing to a song called Party Rock Anthem by a group named LMFAO. As one RN-T poster noted, there is little chance that the students who were participating in the flash mob didn’t know what the acronym LMFAO stands for. There is also little chance that at least the majority of them didn’t know the lyrics to the song.

As distressing as the video is, there is another issue that we would submit is far more important. The video could easily be dismissed by some as an action that was not clearly thought out or thoroughly vetted. It could be that the claim will be made that no one except an RN-T poster found this lapse in judgment a big deal. While incredibly stupid and contrary to the current administration’s contention that they are carrying Shorter back to its Christian (read fundamentalist Georgia Baptist) roots, what we find more disturbing is what happened in the aftermath of this production.

We could not help but wonder if there had been no objection to the song and the group, by either faculty or students, and so we have done a bit of research. We have been told by several sources that indeed, a student who was in the cafeteria at the time (but not a part of the flash mob) was so outraged by this insult to the concept of Christ-centered critical thinking that they took a copy of the lyrics to a Shorter administrator and complained.(We have confirmed this with the student.) We presume that the administrator reported it to upper administration.

Instead of validating the student’s concerns, and probing the incident that had been reported, the administration dismissed the student’s concerns as unimportant. Copies of the lyrics were purportedly sent to Dr. Don Dowless, Dr. Craig Schull and Dr. Sabrena Parton. Did no one in upper administration find the song so objectionable that action was taken? The only actions we have seen is the promotion of said dean to a loftier position within the University and the demotion of the reporting administrator and Provost Schull to the Atlanta campus.

Irony indeed!

My Story About Shorter University

My name is Jacob Bean and I’m a college graduate.

I had planned on transferring to Shorter University in the Fall after receiving a full ride to the institution.

Being the son of missionaries, my parents don’t have the income to put me through college, therefore I was stoked to find out I had received one of ten full rides.

I was born and raised in Atlanta, but moved around in my later teenage years with my parents. We currently live in North Dakota where they do mission work with Native Americans. I recently graduated with two associate degrees and had planned on transferring to finish my Bachelors Degree.

I recently started hearing murmurings about the lifestyle statement at Shorter. Being gay, it really bothered me, but I figured I could be the change they so desperately need.

After much consideration, I no longer believe that I can attend or accept a full-ride to a university that has such a close-minded view. I’m all about love, equality and acceptance. I don’t think Jesus would acted the same way or have fired someone for being gay – he would have accepted and loved them. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I want to be proud of the university I attend and be a proud alumni – I don’t think I could ever be proud of Shorter University.

Another thing that has really worried me has been the large exodus of faculty and staff from the University. With all of the teachers leaving, the quality of education must be lacking. I want a good education not one that is being taught by brand new teachers.

The university also lied straight to my face. I’ve been trying to contact the VP of Enrollment for past few weeks because I won’t be able to attend the orientation for transfer students due to a conflict in scheduling. I was told multiple times that John Head was out of town, on vacation, sick or had stepped out of the office, when in fact he had resigned at the end of May. They never told me that.

Its sad that an institution of higher learning, especially an liberal arts school, would be so close-minded.

As a gay person and advocate for love and acceptance, I can’t attend Shorter University.

I hope other students will follow in my footsteps, so that Shorter University understands what they have done isn’t the Christian thing to do.

On the flip side, I now have to find another university to attend; with it being mid-summer, many institutions have closed registration. The chances of getting scholarships this late in the year are slim to none as well. It’s a big bummer. I’m frustrated and saddened.

Thought my story should be heard.

Thanks,

Jacob Bean

A WIDER VIEW

We would like to thank our readers for supporting SOS and for their feedback. We urge you to read the comments on the articles that we post, and respond as you see fit. Respectful, open dialog is what is necessary to bring to the table the best of all of us.

While we know that some may disagree with our opinions, we would submit that we are, as best as is possible, giving you the truth as we have learned it.

Some of our readers have been kind enough to share articles with us that we feel would be profitable to share with all of you.

An alum shared an article entitled “The Fallacy of Statements of Faith” from the Sojurners website.

The Save OBU (Oklahoma Baptist University) website continues its excellent series of articles on Understanding Fundamentalism. We’ll start your reading from the beginning of the series. Just click here.

Finally, SafetyNet, a support organization for LGBTQ youth sent us  this Letter to Save Our Shorter Community.

We thank our readers for sharing their thoughts and support.

There are insightful and thought provoking statements here and we would like your feedback.

WHY THE TRUSTEE SILENCE?

UPDATE: 

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

TITLE 14.  CORPORATIONS, PARTNERSHIPS, AND ASSOCIATIONS  
CHAPTER 3.  NONPROFIT CORPORATIONS  
ARTICLE 6.  MEMBERSHIP  
PART 2.  RIGHTS AND LIABILITIES OF MEMBERS

O.C.G.A. § 14-3-610  (2012)

§ 14-3-610. Voting rights

Members as defined in paragraph (22) of Code Section 14-3-140 shall have no voting rights, other than to elect directors, except as specifically provided in the articles or bylaws. All members shall have the same rights and obligations with respect to any other matters, except as set forth in or authorized by the articles or bylaws.

In order to understand the relationship between Shorter University and the Georgia Baptist Convention, it is necessary to look at Georgia law and at the meaning of “fiduciary responsibility”.

In the 2005 court decision, the Georgia Baptist Convention was declared by the courts to be a member of the nonprofit corporation that is Shorter University (College).  According to Georgia code, the only right of the member is that of electing directors, or in Shorter’s case, trustees unless otherwise specifically set forth in the bylaws.

So what does fiduciary responsibility entail?  Professor Paul G. Haskell addressed that issue in an article entitled “The University as Trustee”, in the Georgia Law Review.  Professor Haskell contends that the university is a corporation, which is chartered specifically for charitable purposes (thus earning its nonprofit status) for the good of the public – in this case, to provide educational opportunities to the public. He further asserts that “the university should be considered a trustee for the public generally and the students, faculty, donors, and alumni particularly, and that as trustee the university owes the fiduciary duties of selflessness, care, fairness, and disclosure in all its dealings with students, in the administration of its admissions policy, and in the management and allocation of its assets”

The Shorter University Bylaws directly address the issues of the rights of the member (GBC) and the duties of the trustees of the institution. The member shall have the right to appoint all trustees and to approve any amendments to the bylaws. The trustees “shall serve the best interests of the college  . . . and The Board of Trustees shall be free from undue influence from political, religious or other external bodies, and shall protect the corporation from such influence.”

So far, so good. The GBC elects trustees and approves amendments and the Trustees, whom the GBC chooses, have a responsibility and duty to the University, not to the GBC.  This is the relationship approved by SACS during the 2005 court settlement.  If that were the reality, then there would be no need for SOS or for the massive exodus from Shorter. The GBC inherited a Christian college with an on and off affiliation with the Georgia Baptist Convention. They did not inherit a Baptist college, established strictly on Baptist principles or which had historically abided with the ideology of the GBC.

The Reality

The University Bylaws: There is nothing in Shorter’s bylaws that demand that a trustee hold a specific affiliation with a GBC church. By extension, it can be assumed that trustee nominees can come from any faith or from no faith at all.

The Reality: Since the 2005 court case, the Georgia Baptist Convention has elected to the Board of Trustees only individuals with membership in a GBC affiliated church. Of the 31 current board members, six are GBC pastors.  In addition, one is the minister of music at a GBC church; one is the director of missions with the Bartow County Baptist Association; one works for the National Christian Foundation for Ministry Services.

Of those in the ministry, one, Dr. Carlisle Driggers, served for 15 years as Executive Director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and holds honorary doctoral degrees from, among others, Charleston Southern and North Greenville Universities. The two institutions are the former employers of Shorter President, Don Dowless. Readers should be mindful that Robert White, Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, also sits on the Board of Trustees as an ex-officio member.

Two of the current trustees, one of whom is the current chairman of the board, are employed by AFLAC. AFLAC offers its products to the faculty and staff of Shorter University.

Two current trustees and one former trustee are members of Roswell Street Baptist Church, from which Nelson Price holds the title Pastor Emeritus.  The former trustee, Bob English, who just rotated off of the board in January and was on the board when the Personal Lifestyle Statement, Statement of Faith and Biblical Principles for the Integration of Faith and Learning were adopted, is an officer with ADE Builders, the company which received the contract, without the necessity of going through a bidding process, for the new library extension and the new.

Three trustees are members of Tabernacle Baptist Church, and Shorter’s President has a very close relationship with that church. One of these is Don Hattaway, who serves Tabernacle as senior pastor. Don Hattaway has served on the board of Brewton-Parker College and was Chairman of the Board in 2005-2006. His term expired in 2008. Brewton-Parker is in deep financial trouble and stands to lose its SACS accreditation this month. The college is currently on Warning from SACS for numerous violations. In 1998, Brewton-Parker settled a lawsuit for $4 million that was brought by a former employee and joined by the Federal Government for the misuse of federal funds.  Incidentally, the newly-named Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and chief designer and chair of the Quality Enhancement Plan is also a member of Tabernacle.

Three trustees are members of Calvary Baptist Church, a small Baptist church in Rome. There are, however, no trustees from First Baptist Church in Rome, despite the fact that First Baptist was the church home of Alfred and Martha Shorter and has been a long-time supporter of Shorter.

It should be noted that according to the Shorter 2009-2010 form 990 (no later filings are available online) the institution has no members.

It should also be noted that the trustees of Shorter University have NOT been asked to sign the Personal Lifestyle Statement. They have, however, been given “ Talking Points” for dealing with the public.

We recommend that alumni, students, faculty and staff, to whom the Board of Trustees holds a fiduciary obligation, contact the Board of Trustee members and demand answers as to why the Board has placed Shorter in financial jeopardy from loss of students, academic jeopardy from the flight of top-rated professors and administrative staff and indeed, placed the entire institution in peril. Since the Shorter website has not updated its Board of Trustees page in the six months that the new board has been in place, we kindly provide that information for you upon request.

WHERE ARE THE TRUSTEES?

On March 30 of this year, the Board of Trustees of Shorter University met on the Atlanta campus for their regularly scheduled meeting. SOS had sent board members a packet of information prior to the meeting. In addition to a cover letter outlining what SOS felt to be serious issues on the Shorter campus, copies of letters that should have been of interest to the board members were included. A copy of the letter from the AAUP (American Association of University Professors), expressing concern about reports by Shorter faculty on the impingement on academic freedom, was included. Other letters were from concerned alumni, one of whom was on the Alumni Governing Board, were also a part of the packet. You will find the letters in the Documents section of this website.

The cover letter cited the following concerns:

Specifically, we object to the following personnel and policy issues:

  • As the President of Shorter University, it is incumbent on Dr. Dowless to communicate with all constituencies of the university. It should be expected that he communicate in a civil, non-accusatory, and non-demeaning manner. He has failed to do that.
  • Dr. Dowless has refused to have dialog with Rome citizens, clergy and alumni despite his public statements to the contrary. He has assigned that role to Mr. Epting – in itself a poor leadership decision, since Mr. Epting has just recently been hired. Dr. Newman’s door was always open to anyone who wished to speak with him.
  • Two well-respected staff members, both Shorter grads, were dismissed without due cause but for ideological reasons, despite the fact that they had signed the Personal Lifestyle Statement. While the firings are within the rights of the administration, to lose two dedicated individuals who have the love of Shorter at heart and who had defended the actions of the administration to their constituencies is shameful. We are seeing embarrassing consequences within the Rome community for those actions.
  • Faculty search guidelines as outlined in the Faculty Handbook are being ignored while a contentious and dictatorial administration defies the faculty to speak up.
  • A total of 40 faculty and staff have left or announced their intention of leaving Shorter this year. Many more are expected to leave before the beginning of the next academic year.
  • The School of Fine and Performing Arts, which has been called the “Conservatory of the South” and which, incidentally, just produced the national winner of the Music Teacher’s National Association competition, has been gutted, with both students and professors leaving because of the censorship guidelines that have been mandated. NASM has been notified of potential violations of its standards and loss of accreditation is highly possible
  • The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has been notified of the censorship of materials and the repression of academic freedom that is a hallmark of Dr. Dowless’ administration. The AAUP may censure Shorter if they have evidence of the above charges. You should be aware that North Greenville and Charleston Southern are under censorship by the AAUP. While the current administration may not find this significant, the broader academic community considers the opinion of the AAUP quite the opposite.
  • Over 30 third party complaints have been filed against Shorter with SACS. Again, while this might be dismissed by Dr. Price and Dr. Dowless, we remind you that, to quote the Georgia Supreme Court from the 2005 decision, “The controversy was precipitated by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which questioned the College’s independence and threatened its accreditation because the power to select trustees was vested in GBC. And from the dissenting opinion, “The majority opinion holds that Shorter College’s Board of Trustees complied with its governing documents, the Georgia Nonprofit Corporation Code,1 and its fiduciary duties in dissolving the College and transferring its assets to the Shorter College Foundation.” In other words, the court affirmed that SACS did, in fact, threaten accreditation because of undue influence of the GBC.
  • More than a few professors fear for their jobs, but with the dissolution of the Faculty Senate, they have no voice to express their dissatisfaction and their anger.
  • Dr. Dowless and Dr. Price have clearly underestimated the academic community and Rome community’s tolerance for the dramatic shift away from academic freedom and the heritage of Shorter University. Major donors and foundations have either withdrawn their contributions or are seriously contemplating doing so. Donors who have already fulfilled their pledges have vowed that because of the direction currently being followed by the administration, they will never support Shorter again. Those losses will be substantial.

It is our understanding that when the packet sent to Shorter Board of Trustee members was mentioned, it was quickly dismissed as the rantings of a few. It was reported that no Board of Trustee member questioned the validity of the claims in the documents. If academic freedom and institutional integrity were being questioned, why was there no discussion?  We will look at some possibilities in an upcoming post.

MICHAEL WILSON TERMINATED

UPDATE: Two more departures.

A complete list of those who have departed may be found here.

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

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

UPDATE: Please see our new tab, Right Religion for some thoughts for this Sunday.

Michael Wilson is gone. Shorter administration terminated him as of May 31. You may read Mr. Wilson’s story here. He did not want to leave. He loved his job. He was, at the age of 50, working on his doctorate so that he could better serve his students. He was a tenured faculty member who has served Shorter and her students for fourteen years.

Despite the careless journalism on the part of some of the media who claimed otherwise, Mr. Wilson did not resign. He returned his contract with the phrase regarding homosexuality struck out from the Personal Lifestyle Statement. One can do many things, but they cannot change what God creates them to be.

When, on May 3, 2012 he returned his contract to the Shorter Provost, he also sent a letter to Shorter President, Dr. Don Dowless.

Dear Dr. Dowless:

Please find enclosed for your reference a copy of my signed employment contract for the 2012-2013 school year; the original document has been submitted to the Provost’s office. As you can see, I have redacted Clause 10; 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.

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 can teach and students can learn, without these ideological restrictions.

Should you be unwilling to reconsider your stance, I ask that you extend to me the courtesy of informing me as promptly as you can that my services will no longer be required. It is my hope that I may at least work until my present contract expires on May 31, 2012; 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.

Sincerely,

 Michael Wilson

For 20 days Mr. Wilson waited. He had begun his career as a librarian with Shorter. It had been his intent to retire from Shorter.

 A letter from then-Provost Dr. Craig Shull appeared in Mr. Wilson’s mail box on May 23. The text of the letter:

 Dear Michael,

Shorter hereby accepts your resignation effective May 31, 2012.

We wish you the best of luck in the future.

Sincerely,

Dr. Craig Shull, Provost.

Two lines after 14 years of committed service. Two lines.

Mr. Wilson responded to Dr. Shull’s letter on May 24.

Dear Dr.Shull,

I have received your letter of May 22 in which you stated that Shorter had accepted my resignation. I am puzzled as I have not resigned from my position as Off-Campus Librarian and I have no intention of doing so. I am not aware that any of the documents that I have recently sent to your office would remotely suggest my intention to leave my job voluntarily. If I am to be dismissed for having spoken out in favor of academic freedom, please let me know as soon as possible. Otherwise please update your records to reflect my status as a continuing tenured faculty member.

Yours,

Michael Wilson

Later in the week, he received the following from Dr. Dowless.

Dear Michael,

Shorter has received your letter of May 3, 2012, wherein you requested to work through your contract date of May 31, 2012. Dr. Shull sent you a letter acknowledging your resignation, and you have now written an email stating that you had not resigned. Shorter had not received a valid, fully-executed contract for continued employment. Since you have not returned a valid contract, you do not have a contract for the upcoming academic year.

Shorter appreciates your services to the University and students and wishes you well in the future.

Sincerely,

Dr. Don Dowless

It should be noted that Mr. Wilson, in his role as Off-Campus Librarian, served a constituency that, according to the Shorter Fact Book, is comprised of only 25% Baptist-affiliated students. It should also be noted that the largest sector of students in the off-campus programs are in the 40-49 age group.