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.


 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.


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.


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.


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. 


  1. Another case of an uncaring administration and unprofessional action on their part. The only “hitch” that puzzles me (and this is in the administration’s favor) is the fact that the University asked Michael to return a “valid” contract. A valid contract being one that contained Michael’s signature and ONLY Michael’s signature. These were the instructions in the cover letter that was included in the envelope along with the contract. The contract Michael returned included his signature AND the redacted clause. This is not what the University asked for, thus, is not a valid contract. I know, I know, it’s a mere technicality but I think this is what the administration is using to justify their actions. Mr. Wilson will be missed very much. He was a real asset to the University.

  2. This infuriates me. What can we do? How can we help, Michael?

  3. This is repugnant. I hope Mr. Wilson has a good attorney.

  4. David Williams

    Fired over sexual orientation? Perhaps Shorter will persecute race next. State and Federal government obviously sees no problem with discrimination since this institution is operating. They use clauses and doublespeak to thinly hide the real motive of termination. Pathetic. St. Paul asks us to be bold and loving and not timid spirits. They fail there.

  5. They have failed repeatedly…& miserably. Administration and the BOT stand by judging others, making absurd decisions/policies over and over again…decisions/policies that hurt individuals…and families. They don’t care really about people, despite what their giant billboards say; no, they care about $$$ and enacting random policies that they believe make them “better” than everyone else. & I’m sure the newest “merge” of the different colleges/divisions is 1.) a way to save $$$ 2.) a way to replace a lot people quickly and 3.) a way for certain like-minded people to retain “control” of policy without challenge. They’re ousting, one way or another, anyone and everyone would put up a good fight or challenge. & I also “love” how they underhandedly replaced the Provost. & I also “love” how Big D is filling up the university with his cronies…maybe someone should remind administration that cronyism is a form of nepotism (something they claim to be against). I hope Mr. Wilson hires a good attorney. This nonsense should not be allowed to go on without a formal challange…it’s 2012 for pity’s sake.

  6. I am wondering what happens next…will gay students be refused athletic or academic scholarships because of their sexual orientation? How will we know if they are or are not? What about work study funds? Will gay students be permitted to utilize their work study monies at Shorter by working on campus…even though they would NOT be allowed to work at Shorter following their graduation? Would openly gay employees be permitted to work at Shorter if they simply signed the lifestyle statement without compunction? Will straight students be favored over gay students in the classroom setting? And who exactly is going to be “qualified” to monitor all the behaviors of students, staff, and faculty? Will they utilize lie detectors? Will there be office searches? Computer data searches? Will faculty members turn on each other, turning each other in if prohibited behavior is suspected or discovered? Will evidence be collected? Who is the judge? Jury? Say Suzy Staff Member is seen having a drink with her dinner at Olive Garden…and another staff, let’s say Sally Staff Member sees her and thinks, “Hmmm… I can get ahead if I prove Suzy is less worthy of her job due to her lifestyle” (never mind work ethic and merit-based advancement). My bet is Shorter will become more and more of a “police state” (a police state is the harsh reality of the “intentional community” their lifestyle monitoring is supposed to induce). & those that think you are safe…you are not. It’s only a matter of time. Be careful: Cross your t’s and dot your i’s…someone is watching. & guess what, you will NEVER be “good enough” for the powers-that-be. The “rules” of the lifestyle statement are arbitrary, and they will change because they were crafted by flawed human beings, not God. Maybe next time, the powers-that-be will only allow blonde-haired, blue-eyed people to be hired at Shorter. A rude awakening is on the horizon.

  7. I wonder what Jesus would do if he had Dr. Dowless’ position as President?

  8. A former student

    You are an amazing librarian. I was touched by how deeply you cared for your students at Shorter. I wish you the best of luck in everything you do, & I am proud of you for standing up for yourself.

  9. thomashobsonwilliams

    Dear Dr. Dowless:

    Shorter University hereby accepts your resignation from your position as president, effective immediately. Because you have not supported and acknowledged the institution’s long legacy of academic excellence and Christian education, you do not have a valid contract. We wish you well in the future.

    Shorter’s Supporters

  10. I think that JayJay, above, is very unwise to accept the infantile claims of an incompetent and vicious administration as being a reliable guide to the contract law of the land.


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