UPDATE: GPB Radio covers new hire story

The Dowless administration has announced, with much fanfare, what it has done to meet SACS requirements for faculty numbers for the university. The announcement was made with much fanfare at the Faculty Retreat on Thursday – a retreat, by the way, where the morning was designed like this:

  • 8:00 – 8:20 “Voluntary” prayer session
  • 10:00 – 10:30 Devotional
  • 10:45 – 12:00 “Defining Faith Integration in College Teaching” – Testimonies and panel discussion.

The afternoon session (from 1:00 – 3:00) actually devoted 45 minutes to “Faculty Business”. (More on this subject in a future post.)

The list of “new” faculty can be found in an article posted today in the Rome News-Tribune.   On the surface, the hire of 51 “new” faculty seems impressive. According to the article, Dowless claims “. . . our focus remained fixed on delivering the highest-caliber education to our students within an authentic Christian context.”

Really, Dr. Dowless?  Did you really want the “highest-caliber” educators at Shorter?

 Let’s examine that statement and the truth about the hires.

According to the 2011-2012 Faculty Handbook, the following is the prescribed procedure for hiring new faculty:

2.2 Policy for the Recruitment of Faculty

2) New or vacated faculty positions are announced through various sources as follows:

a) Chronicle of Higher Education

b) Minority publication such as Black Issues

c) Area newspapers

d) Journals or trade papers

e) Graduate schools

f) Denominational publications

g) Higher Ed

A very few of the 44 vacant faculty positions were advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education. For those of you who are not aware, the Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed are the two most highly respected sources for academic recruiting. In other words, if an institution wants a quality hire, they advertise in the Chronicle first. They may also advertise in other publications, but generally, the academically best-qualified applicants will be reading the Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed for faculty openings.

Rather than searching for the brightest and best, exposing Shorter’s limited educational view and restraint of academic freedom to the world, Dowless and the Board have cobbled together an assortment of shuffles within the school body, raids on one of Dowless’ former employers, adjunct hires that had already been vetted for limited teaching opportunity, as well as a large assortment of un-tested (pedagogically speaking), hires who will be using Shorter as their first opportunity to prove their abilities.

Again, according to the 2011-2012 Faculty Handbook:

2.2.3 Faculty Credentials and Preparation

Faculty members are expected to hold a terminal degree in the teaching field. Any deviation

from this requirement must be justified in writing and approved by the School Dean and Provost.

The respective Deans and Dr. Martin must be justifying and approving a large number of newly hired faculty.

As the report below will show, many of the new hires do not yet hold terminal degrees and/or those degrees have been recently awarded. As seen below, many new faculty have extremely limited/no teaching experience.

Another item of note – many of the “New FULL-TIME Faculty” are simply former adjuncts who have been hired for full-time positions. We do not argue that some of these hires are good for Shorter. We do, however, question whether their positions were duly advertised and whether the best, most highly qualified faculty have been hired for full-time positions.

New Full Time Faculty Info

Formerly Adjunct:

Ms. Agan

Ms. Brown

Dr. Daniel

Dr. Derrick

Ms. Goad (PhD candidate – does not yet hold a doctorate from Georgia State)

Ms. Hunt

Ms. Koontz

Ms. Mack-Weir

Mr. Myers

Ms. Stiles

Ms. Storey

Listed as New Full Time, but had been full time employee at Shorter in other positions

Ms. Avant –Formerly Assistant Vice President of Affairs and Dean of Students (Both administrative jobs) Interesting observation – she has been named Dean of the College of Adult and Professional Programs, yet she has no doctorate. She is ABD (all but dissertation) at Mercer University, however. Normally, a Dean of a school has deep academic credentials to support the position.

Mr. Butcher – Director of Online Programs.

Dr. Derrick – Formerly Director of Student Support Services

Dr. Werner – Formerly Dean of the Chapel

Limited or no teaching experience

Dr. Aebisher – post-doctoral associate, lab assistant at CUNY

Ms. Benhardus – in a doctoral program at University of Iowa

Mr. Butcher – Director of Online Programs; no teaching experience

Mrs. Emerson –  administrative assistant at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Mr. Gill – Insurance rep/Pastor

Mr. Hooper – coach

Mr. Huey –adjunct at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (ABD)

Ms. Koontz – served as adjunct for Shorter, tutor at Chattahoochee Tech

Mr. LeHew – Assistant to the Senior Vice President – Baptist College of Florida.; Adjunct BCF

Dr. Luyai – Post-graduate fellow – Emory; research assistant- Emory

Dr. McMichael – Only teaching experience was as a second grade teacher. Mostly admin jobs.

Ms. Moyer – nurse practitioner

Dr. Naddy – no teaching experience

Ms.Harper-Storey – no terminal degree.

Dr.Vanderbush – has been a teaching assistant.


Charleston Southern – former employees (faculty only)

Dr. Douglas

Dr. Harper

Dr. Spitler

Dr. Weaver

Fully half of the 51 hires do not hold terminal degrees and are not listed as in doctoral degree programs. Three are in doctoral programs but currently do not hold terminal degrees.

Of the remaining 25 who hold doctorates, 5 have very limited/no teaching experience.

Dr. Dowless has touted the credentials of his hires, citing Harvard, Julliard and Emory. The truth of the matter is that NONE of his hires have TAUGHT at these schools.  We have new faculty that attended there, but to be a graduate of such prestigious schools and having been a professor there is as different as playing on the UGA football team and being the UGA Athletic Director.

Added to the over-all number of faculty employed by Shorter for the 2012-2013 academic year, the number of those with non-terminal degrees may only slightly affect the number of terminally-degreed faculty required by SACS. The current trend is very troubling to those who expect the academic standard of excellence previously experienced at Shorter.

We lost 400 cumulative years of teaching experience from faculty who departed Shorter. Take that number in for a moment.  Four hundred cumulative years.

Shorter is supposed to be the GBC’s flagship institution. Many small churches hire pastors straight out of grad school. Flagship churches hire pastors with a proven track record. Is this the best that Shorter can do for its flagship institution? Is the above assortment what Dowless and the Board consider to be “the highest-caliber education to our students within an authentic Christian context”?


20 responses to “REVIEWING THE “NEW” FACULTY

  1. Beverly B. Woodward

    Shocking !!! But somehow not surprising. An admirable job has been done sizing up faculty staffing at Shorter. Sad and disgraceful. B. Woodward ’55

  2. This is a very informative article. I have been following the situation at shorter with great interest. Alumni and people who care about shorter need to support sos and offer any help possible. I am going to e-mail them and help them any way i can. Others need to join me. A better vision for shorter can be obtained if enough of us stop weeping for shorter and fighting for her!

  3. At this rate, Shorter is going to have real problems with SACS and may not get an unconditional accreditation. That would create a real crisis and a window for positive change. From an outsider’s perspective I suggest SaveOurSorter supporters need to really push hard on Shorter’s issues now. A sharp, acute crisis this year leading to a new reckoning would be better for the patient (and even Dr. Dowless’s bosses) than a long, slow decline and eventually demise spread over 3 to 5 years.

    SOS folks just watching Shorter decline and passively letting go their commitment this year would be such a shame.

    Keep pushing. Pray harder!

  4. Greetings,

    I understand that SOS does not support the recent policies and practices at Shorter, and I dont’ suppose that will change in the foreseeable future. I think reasonable dissent can be healthy and I certainly don’t fault you all for your careful scrutiny. When the documents at Shorter were initially announced, folks speculated that Shorter could not possibly implement such policies without jeopardizing their accreditation with SACS. This speculation was quickly laid to rest after the SACS president announced that Shorter could implement such policies, and that other SACS-accredited institutions shared similar statements. The target quickly shifted toward faculty vacancies, and if Shorter could possibly fill them with such policies. Folks presumed that no one would want to come to Shorter with such policies, and surely all the faculty vacancies would put Shorter in SACS crosshairs. Remarkably, interest in the university allowed Shorter to quickly fill most of those vacancies. It seems now the object of SOS’s scrutiny is their qualifications. My question to you is…what if these faculty members prove to be exceptionally good at what they do? What if faculty productivity increases…students’ rate professors favorably on classroom evaluations…or assessment measures report substantial learning? What if Shorter’s standing in the national rankings increase? Or what if their selectivity increases? I understand this is speculation…but so is the assumption that these faculty hires will somehow decrease the quality of the education at Shorter. If things remain positive at Shorter, even improve, is there a point at which SOS would acknowledge that perhaps their judgment of the situation was hasty?

    • Jared,
      I am not so sure SACS is still not an issue. The final report will not come out until December and who knows what They will say given how the situation as changed since their visit. ( the resignation of so many faculty). What is clear,however, is Shorter lost a vast amount of experience that it can not recoup that is undeniable, It is true that Shorter may rebound in enrollment eventually but it will never be the true liberal arts University that is was. It will be a second class University that people have little respect for. Thank Goodness. I have a second degree and will not have to explain to people why I went to Shorter as many are already having to do.

  5. Are ya’ll forgetting WHO is really in charge on the hill? Almighty God!! He moves people around for different reasons we don’t even know about!! Let’s give Him some slack so he can do his job!! I have a daughter who is beginning Nursing School there. What’s wrong with a Nurse Practioner teaching Nursing students. They are qualified to do anything a Dr. can, as long as it’s under the supervision of a Dr. I agree with Mr. Davis; unite behind them, if we can’t beat ’em, join ’em!!

    • Thomas Hobson Williams

      Yes, God is “in charge” in the sense of having the power to control any and every situation, but that does not mean He always exercises that power. If God is all powerful, He doesn’t need us to give him any slack. God allows individuals (and university administrations) to make their own decisions, and often a bad decision can have terrible consequences (such as what has been happening to Shorter), where a different decision would have given a much better outcome. COULD God cause a change of course in spite of someone’s (Dowless & Company) poor decisions? Yes, He COULD (and might), but that doesn’t necessarily mean He will. Don’t ask me why, but the Lord does not force people to follow the best paths, and neither does He always prevent the negative consequences of people’s decisions.

      Kyrie eleison.

      • Mr. Williams, you are absolutely right when you said God doesn’t need any slack!!!!!! But, I think, it’s all about choice, the choice He gives us. We don’t always make the right choice; so, I think we limit the “Slack” by going ahead without asking for His Guidance first! I certainly don’t know what has gone on behind the scenes at Shorter; it’s none of my business, however, I do have a daughter , beginning Nursing tomorrow(14th) so I am excited for her! I ‘m just weary of all the controversy & the drama!! I firmly believe that if everybody there , in whatever capacity, will give their all for the benefit of the STUDENTS, then much can be accomplished!

  6. Interested Observer

    I noted that a considerable number of the new hires were given positions as Assistant Professor or Associate Professor even though they only had Masters’ degrees. This is counter to academic practice at most of the schools I’ve encountered. Most teachers with only a Masters’ only qualify as instructors. Is this practice more widespread than I think?

  7. Lots of people have made excellent instructors with only Master Degrees! Does it require a PHD to be known as a Professor! This is probably true in other Academic Schools!! But this is Shorter, things are changing! As long as God is in charge, it’s going to change for the better!
    Speaking of PHD’s, How many, among you, would be willing to share the expertise you have as a volunteer @ Shorter? That way, you could assist some of these instructors that you say are unqualified. Your willingness , along with your expertise, would be priceless! You would enjoy it too!! You’d be giving Back to Shorter by helping to mold these young lives to go out & face the world!! Just give it a thought!!!

    • Interested Observer

      You’re deliberately dodging the issue. An instructor is a faculty position at a lower level than Assistant or Associate Professor, and is a lower pay grade. Instructors are not eligible for tenure, and the minimum requirement for instructor is usually a Masters’ degree. All levels of professorship, normally the upper echelons of faculty and eligible for tenure and higher faculty honors, normally have a Doctorate or other terminal degree. Shorter’s heavy hiring of teachers on the Associate or Assistant Professor level with only a Master’s degree cheapens the meaning of those titles.

      Yes, individuals with Master’s degrees or lower are quite often brilliant teachers. But academic titles are a huge thing on the college level, and the actions of the Shorter administration will cause problems in the future.

      And by the way, the excessive use of exclamation points is in no way impressive. It’s childish, like many of your comments.

      • My comments may have been childish but they got your attention!! Have you checked in to possibly volunteering @ Shorter???????

      • Interested Observer

        Your comments got my attention, but little or none of it of it was positive. Also, I still have connections with Shorter and am involved there, but it’ll never be with this administration.

      • Interested Observer: I wasn’t asking you to get involved with the Administration!! Just the students!!!

  8. Enough Is Enough

    EE, I can assure you that God is not in charge of what is going on at Shorter right now. The God I know and serve is nonjudgemental and accepts people for who they are, unconditionally. Shorter has lost its value to a lot of people and I am not sure they have a shot of regaining it unless there are SIGNIFICANT changes made, and soon!

  9. Who ran the Communication Department for so long???? Did she have a PhD????? Absolutely the BEST professor I could have dreamed of. And no doctorate.

    • Did you ever think about when in her illustrious career you encountered her? Do you think she might have developed those teaching skills over time with the help of skilled mentors and colleagues who have PhDs and many years of experience in teaching?

      I was one of the blessed individuals (and I really believe that) who Dr. Allee took a chance on. He hired me right out of grad school (as a matter of fact I was in candidacy at the time). But rather than throw me straight into a classroom he allowed me the opportunity to grow as a lab instructor and after I completed my MS degree, he let me teach a summer course. From there, he would let me guest lecture his A&P class on occasion. All the while I had friends with 6, 8, 12, 30 years of experience teaching (and for many of those people…MOST of that time was at Shorter or small institutes just like her) who guided me and pushed me to teach at the level the students expected. And at a level they deserved.

      So no. Not having a PhD doesn’t make you less of an educator. What these new faculty lack is the opportunity to be mentored by their peers. They are being tossed into the classroom with limited funds for professional development, with limited experience of their own, and with limited access to professors that know how to do the job. That is why SOS is concerned. It’s why parents of students interested in Shorter should be concerned too.

  10. I think he is also , possibly , accepting your replacement without judgement. Please, the drama is wearing thin!!!!!
    This is to Enough is Enough!!! Come to think of it, I agree with you!!!!!!

  11. One more comment; this is re: 400yr, of service. Now I don’t know how many yr. of service Shorter requires for full retirement but if it’s 35yr. then divide 400 by 35 is approx. 11 people, is that right??////!!!

    • The number of faculty that have left totals 44 (unless I missed someone). So if you want to divide by something…divide by that. It means that, on average, you lost 9.09 years of experience per faculty member that left.

      I think it is more important to look a the level of institutional memory that you are losing (which is what the 400 years represents). These people knew what Shorter was…how high her expectations were…and how to get things done for your student. Being a new professor at a new institution is hard (I’m dealing with that right now!) because there is so much to learn. When I was at Shorter I had colleagues readily available to help me navigate that during my first few years. These new faculty will have a harder time finding someone that actually knows what to do in these situations…or at least what the practices have been at Shorter in the past.

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