Almost six weeks ago, Shorter hired Mr. Wayne Phipps as director of its Department of Human Resources. Wayne came to Shorter from Oglethorpe University, where he had spent 5 years in the human resources department. Prior to working at Oglethorpe, Mr. Phipps had worked in human resources in the corporate environment. Mr. Phipps was well-liked by his colleagues at Shorter and there was hope that he would be effective in keeping proper hiring procedure in place. All in all, it seemed like a good match – until last week.
Mr. Phipps has turned in his resignation at Shorter.
Why would someone who had already been on the job for six weeks turn in their resignation? Possibilities abound, but several reasons come to mind. He could have resigned because he was having trouble with relocation. But in this economy, six weeks is a very short amount of time to expect a home to sell and a commute from Atlanta, while difficult, was something he surely considered before accepting the job. He could have been offered a higher salary by Oglethorpe or some other institution, but Mr. Phipps impresses us as a man of integrity. He might have changed his mind and accepted another position prior to actually beginning at Shorter, but once there, one would think he would honor his commitment. He is a youth pastor at a GBC church, so surely he would have felt honor-bound to help the GBC and remain at Shorter.
We have heard from numerous sources that the current hiring practices at Shorter are, to say the least, unconventional. We understand that Mr. Phipps was intent on doing things the right way – the LEGAL way. We suspect that Mr. Phipps found the administration’s hiring practices downright unethical. Background checks have been waived (does no one in administration understand the implications of that?), the “mandatory” interview with Don Dowless to ascertain the “Baptist worthiness” of candidates, candidates, no matter their experience and aptness for jobs, have been hired.
Shorter’s faculty handbook clearly sets forth the procedure for hiring new faculty. All candidates’ information goes through the Human Resources Department. Faculty candidates are to be reviewed by the Dean and faculty of the department. The candidates are interviewed by the Dean or Chair, faculty within the discipline, the Provost, and (when he desires) the President. The candidates present a teaching demonstration for interested students and faculty. Observers are encouraged to complete an evaluation form. As we understand it, many of the steps above are being ignored.
The President of Shorter is responsible for the hires of all administrative personnel. It is the responsibility of the president to ensure that any hires are done with the highest and best interest of the university in mind. One can reasonably assume that procedures for hiring would follow, at least in form, the written practices for hiring faculty. Positions should be advertised in a variety of newspapers and professional journals, candidates should be vetted for suitability and accuracy of information by the human resources department, qualified candidates should be submitted to the president and selection should include the exposure to, if not the counsel of those individuals whom the position will most directly affect.
When we were in school, one of the most dreaded assignments in any class was to “compare and contrast.” When comparing and contrasting the credentials of the individuals who have left the university with those of Shorter’s most recent hires, we observe a rather startling gap.
While we are sure that all of the new hires are fine individuals, in the case of the two professorial hires, their education and experience in the teaching field falls far short of their departing colleagues. The new Dean of Education compares favorably in credentials, however she seems to have changed employment far more frequently than most academics do, and we find that troubling. She was at Brewton-Parker from 2004-2008, moved to Charleston Southern Certainly, there is good explanation for such frequent changes. Tenure track usually does not begin at an institution until a professor has taught for at least three years and has been reviewed by their peers.
Only two hires have been reported publicly. It is Shorter’s practice to name all incoming faculty at the beginning of the school year, however we are aware of two individuals.
Departing faculty – Allen Dutch
See Mr. Dutch’s credentials here.
Incoming faculty –
Matthew LeHew We learned of Mr. LeHew’s hire via a tweet on Twitter “I’m excited to announce that at the beginning of August I will be moving to Rome, GA to join the faculty at Shorter University!” He describes himself on Twitter as “Preacher. Web Designer. BCF Grad. FSU Grad” According to the information on the Baptist College of Florida website, Mr. LeHew graduated from Baptist College of Florida in 2009. He received his Master of Arts at Florida State in 2011. His profile reveals limited teaching and/or field experience in his discipline.
Departing faculty –
Dr. Sarah Kathryn Cantrell -assistant professor of English and French. Dr. Cantrell earned a doctoral degree in comparative literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received a Master of Arts degree in French languages and literature from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor’s degree in French and Elementary Education from Centre College.
Dr. Renae Applegate House – assistant professor of English; Writing Center Director. Dr. House earned a doctoral degree in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Master of Arts in Women’s Studies from State University of New York at Albany, Master of Arts in English from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and has 9 years of teaching experience.
Incoming faculty – Renee Emerson – You may find Ms. Emerson’s credentials here. A Master’s degree and tutoring experience hardly replaces the credentials of the professors who have departed.
Departing faculty –
Dr. Sandra Leslie Dean of the School of Education Dr Leslie’s academic background includes a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University in Secondary Education (Latin), M.Ed. in Middle Grades Language Arts; and an Ed.D. from the University of South Carolina in Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Leslie taught Latin in the public schools (middle and high school) for many years. Dr. Leslie taught in the Department of Education at Belmont Abbey College (BAC) in Charlotte, North Carolina for eight years before joining the Shorter faculty. She served as Director of Secondary Education and Educational Technology at BAC and taught undergraduate and graduate level education classes. She has worked with the Board of Examiners for Georgia Institutions of Higher Education and served on several institutional review teams for National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). She served Shorter for six years.
Incoming faculty –
Dr. Norma Harper – Rome News Tribune article here. We hope Dr. Harper will remain at Shorter for a longer period of time than she has at the numerous colleges where she has taught.
Tomorrow, we will look at the administrative replacements at Shorter. It only gets more interesting.