In September, over 50 SOS supporters met in Atlanta and Rome with Libby Nelson, a reporter for Inside Higher Ed, the number one online magazine for educators. In an article out today, she recounts Shorter’s last turbulent year. You may read the article by clicking here.
Our thanks to Ms. Nelson and to Inside Higher Ed for its interest in documenting our story.
Yesterday, November 13, the Georgia Baptist Convention held its 191st Annual Meeting. Contrary to what may be believed, a number of our SOS members are Baptist and have a rightful voice at the gathering, so we thought it fitting for SOS to have its name represented at the meeting.
Over 200 of these fans were passed out to meeting messengers. Many asked what we wanted to “save Shorter from”. If you are here because you “followed the fan”, welcome! On these pages, you’ll learn exactly why we want to save Shorter.
Dr. Don Dowless said was proud to represent Shorter to the gathered attendees. Unfortunately, his audience was not as large as he might have liked. In the years before the Fundamentalist takeover of the GBC, large arenas were rented to accommodate the crowd. As we reported yesterday, the GBC membership has fallen severely. Our messenger reports that there were only around 500 in attendance at any given time yesterday. The video linked here of Dowless’ comments was provided to SOS for our readers.
There are a number of issues that should be of concern to our readers and to Georgia Baptists especially.
- Dowless begins his report by saying “Is there anybody here that doesn’t know where Shorter University stands?” We suppose that Dowless was expecting a standing ovation or at least a loud cheer. He didn’t get either.
- He reports that “we are thriving – doing the best we’ve ever done.” The loss to date of 90 employees, with more to come, calls that statement into question. When 4 deans, several vice-presidents, a number of department heads and your recently hired human resources director walk out, something is wrong.
- Dowless reports an enrollment at Shorter of 2,972 students. According to the Shorter Fact Book 2011-12, last year, Shorter’s enrollment was 3, 702.
- Total loss – 730 students. And yet, Dowless reported to the Board of Trustees that enrollment was only down “a bit”. The number he gave to Libby Nelson, in the article linked above, was 115 students. Readers, statistics don’t lie.
- Dowless reports that the administration has stood firm and done it “in a loving, good spirit”. Michael Wilson would differ with that. Scores of alumni who tried to talk with Dowless would differ with that. Former students who sought an audience with Dowless would differ with that. Community leaders and donors who talked to Dowless would differ with that.
- He mentions the School of Nursing. He doesn’t bother to say that they lost the Dean of the School of Nursing to Berry College. He doesn’t mention the fact that his new dean had only 2 semesters of teaching and had just received her doctorate. He says nothing of the fact that students are desperate because they are being taught faulty science and because they’re having to teach the teachers. He doesn’t have a clue how many are planning to leave. What he DOES know, however, is that the students will be sent on mission trips.
The remainder of his message- part report, part sermon – is about mission trips and athletics. Only once, in the entire presentation, does he mention academic excellence and that as a passing reference to the softball team. Not once does he point to academic achievement in the business, education, science, communication arts or fine arts schools (Perhaps that’s because the fine arts school is nearly non-existent). In fact, the word “academic” is heard only once.
The one thing that Dowless does mention, however, and mentions often, is the word “proud”. “We’re proud to be a Georgia Baptist University . . .We stood on our values and we’re proud of it. . . We’re proud to say we’re a Georgia Baptist school . . . you ought to be proud of us too. . . (named in the Princeton Review) we’re proud of that. We’re proud that our nursing school has 83 students in it. . . I want you to be proud of Shorter University. I want Christ to be more proud of us.
There is a lot of “I” and “we” have done, but little that shows any humility for what has happened at Shorter. Dowless never gives credit to God for what has occurred at Shorter. Perhaps that is because what has happened is not of God, but of man. His thanks to the Georgia Baptists is cursory at best. He thanks his Board of Trustees not at all. Perhaps that is because the board has become filled with figureheads at best. His report is all about what he has done.
When ego supplants Divine authority, it does not bode well for Shorter.
Don Dowless, you should remember Proverbs 16:18 -“Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty attitude before a fall.”