For 139 years, Shorter College stood on the top of a hill in Rome, Georgia. From its inception as the Cherokee Baptist Female Seminary, to present day, it has always reflected its motto “Lux et Veritas” – “Light and Truth” – by serving as a beacon on the Hill, where students were nurtured in a Christian environment, to discover for themselves the light of loving, compassionate professors and the truth which is the true purpose of higher education.
Though conceived and begun in 1873 by Luther Rice Gwaltney, the pastor of Rome Baptist Church, later to become First Baptist Church of Rome, Shorter’s relationship with the Georgia Baptists was always rocky. It was not until 1902 that Dr. Azor Van Hoose officially affiliated the college with the Georgia Baptist Convention. By 1914, President Van Hoose separated the college from the Georgia Baptist Convention, due to the Convention’s lack of financial support. For more than half of its existence – 73 of its 139 years – Shorter remained free from Baptist control while still espousing Baptist principles and values in a Christ-centered environment. Then, in 1958, under the presidency of Dr. Randall Minor, Shorter re-affiliated with the GBC.
On May 23, 2005, Shorter College lost a lawsuit against the Georgia Baptist Convention. Dr. Ed Schrader, then president of the college, and the Shorter Board of Trustees had sought to separate the college from GBC control, after a warning from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) that it was their opinion that there was too much outside interference by the GBC in the affairs of the college – specifically, the Board of Trustees. SACS had warned Shorter that failure to create an autonomous Board risked accreditation by SACS.
While the court decision recognized that the Shorter Board of Trustees had complied with their governing documents, the Georgia Non-Profit Code and their fiduciary responsibility in dissolving the college and transferring its assets to the Shorter Foundation, it had, in essence, used the wrong method for trying to separate itself from the GBC. Furthermore, the court held that the Baptist Convention of Georgia was a member of the non-profit corporation that held Shorter’s assets. As a result, the GBC gained control of the nomination and seating of the Shorter Board of Directors. With that decision, many faculty saw the handwriting on the wall and left Shorter to avoid being under Fundamentalist control.
The next few years were relatively quiet. Dr. Harold Newman, who had served for 20 years as Shorter’s Provost, was first named interim president and then elected President of the College. While there were positive changes under Dr. Newman’s leadership – restored financial stability, growth in enrollment and new programs, and a move to designate Shorter as Shorter University were hallmarks of his leadership – there were unsettling undercurrents that were precursors of the current untenable situation in which Shorter faculty, staff and students find themselves.
There were shifts in the Department of Christian Studies, as well-respected moderate professors were transferred to administrative positions on campus or were quietly urged to leave. Shorter faculty were asked to affirm that they were of the Christian faith. The University became members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. While on the surface, none of these moves were cause for much furor, the Georgia Baptist Convention was quietly setting the ground work necessary to change the heart and the nature of this well respected liberal arts college.
On June 21, 2o1o, Dr. Newman announced plans for his retirement on or before the end of his contract, which extended through June 2012. By May of 2011, Dr. Newman was gone. With him went the hopes and dreams of many of the faculty and staff.
On June 1, 2011, Dr. Don Dowless was named president of Shorter. Dr. Dowless, who came to Shorter from North Greenville College, set to work to change what had been a place of so much happiness for so many into a place of fear and intimidation. Students sunbathing on the lawn, as Shorter students had done for many, many years, were told that their behavior was no longer acceptable, the opera, Elixir of Love, a repertoire standard, was banned because alcohol was a part of the plot. The Harry Potter novels were no longer allowed to be used for courses.
In October, 2o11, Dr. Dowless and the Shorter Board of Trustees adopted a Personal Lifestyle Statement, Statement of Faith and Biblical Principles of Faith and Learning, which all faculty and staff who intended to remain employed at the University would be required to sign.
This website was created to reveal the truth about what is happening on the Shorter campus and how the inept leadership by Dr. Dowless, Dr. Nelson Price and the Shorter Board of Trustees is slowly destroying the reputation of our beloved school and causing irreparable damage to the cause of Christ.
Thank you for sharing the real truth!
I was always very proud to be a part of Shorter. So many things have changed in recent years. Thank you for providing a place where we can hear more of what is really taking place.
We want you to be proud again, Julia. Will you stand with us?
Don and I are in mourning………..it is a DEATH to us. The Shorter College that we attended, loved, and always supported is no longer in existence. Is there a chance that this situation will EVER be made right?
Yes, Susan, but we need you to join us in this fight. We need for all alumni to rally to help Shorter.
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We believe there is, Susan. Please keep checking here. Thank you for your support of SaveOurShorter.
It is only right that a Christian university, specifically a Georgia Baptist university, adhere to these standards.
I totally understand how you feel about everything changing from what you are used to! I’ve been in situations like this, myself. But we’ve got to come clean about the truth of God’s word and His holiness standards. Let’s let Him into our hearts and we”ll be able to see why they want things this way. Remember that JESUS said “unless a man is born again, he cannot SEE the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 You aren’t born again, that’s why you can’t understand why God would require His standards of righteousness in our lives. . or even what real righteousness is. Please, God! I don’t just want to be a Pharisee with my righteousness in mere appearances, and inside I am full of death! I need Jesus to cleanse me and change me. I cry out to God for forgiveness! Righteousness begins with cleansing from sin by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Sin is clear in God’s word. You’ll be free from sin if you believe the truth. You’ll remain in bondage, (and under Judgement) as long as you lie to yourself about your own sin, and the sins of others. (Romans) Being a nice, even a tolerant person doesn’t make you a christian. You’ve got to be converted! “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 The only way THAT happens is through a miracle of salvation through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for your sin. Then we can begin to keep the new standards they are bringing in. And we can, with Jesus reigning as king in our hearts!!
You wrote, “You aren’t born again, that’s why you can’t understand why God would require His standards of righteousness in our lives. . or even what real righteousness is.”
Did you mean exactly what you said? Are you making the assertion that the author of this article (or by extension any and every person who supports Save Our Shorter) is not “born again”? Who are YOU to play God by making this judgement?
JJ: 1) The choice to follow Christ must be a voluntary act, or it means nothing. 2) The Bible clearly states that we are not to judge others. 3) Being a nice and tolerant person may not make one a Christian, but being a judgmental and intolerant Christian WILL and DOES deter others from coming to a belief in Christ. 4) Isn’t the greatest commandment to love God, and the second greatest to love our neighbors? Show me anything about what Shorter University is doing that comes from a place of love and not a place of judgment and condemnation.
Hi Raisin Girl, The choice to follow Christ is voluntary. The privilege of teaching at a Christian university can be limited to those of like mind. Signing a statement allows the professors to judge for themselves if they meet the standards. Shorter is showing love to its many students by seeking to provide professors that they believe will best lead students to follow the southern baptist faith it was founded for.
Shorter was not founded to spread the Baptist Faith. Dr. Robert G. Gardner quotes President Gwaltney in his book, On the Hill (at the bottom of page 62 ) “ There in no intention to render the college sectarian in its influence. Demoninational preferences are, in accordance with the wish of its founder most carefully respected.” In other words, there was no intent to make this a school to teach Baptist theology and beliefs. Christians of all denominations have attended Shorter and taught at Shorter quiet happily. As an Shorter Alumni, I would rather the University give up the low percentage ( 5 or 10 % is my understanding) of revenue that comes from the GBC for an independent Board of Trustees for whom loyalty to University would have priority not loyalty to the GBC.
By the way, you are really not saying that someone is not a Christian just because they would not sign the life style statements? That would be awful judgemental of you wouldn’t it?
The fact is that Shorter is a GBC college, and it is only right that the professors hold to a GBC standard. Of course, not signing a document does not make one not a Christian. People are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone.
Not being a member of a GBC Church or agree theologically with all of the Baptist Faith and Message should not disqualify someone from teaching at Shorter, as you are insinuating. I am believer in Jesus Christ and believe salvation can only be achieved by accepting his sacrifice on the cross. I am a believer in Biblical infallibility. However, I have been around Christians of many several different denominations. ( Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans. Presbyterians, and Pentecostal ) I don’t agree with everything many of them believe but that does not mean they are not Christians or not qualified teachers. After all, they are not being hired to teach theology. Further more, there is more to the situation at Shorter than just the life style statements. There is the risk to accreditation due to the lack of an independent board, and the loss of academic freedom which you may or may not be aware of. Please look the whole picture!
I was only commenting on the one issue.
Shorter is affiliated with the GBC. If Shorter wants the faculty to be Christians and actually follow what the Bible teaches, then that is ok. No one is MADE to work there. The main problem I see with people that have a problem with what Shorter is doing is that they don’t agree with certain parts of the lifestyle statement. You cannot believe some parts of the Bible and then just ignore other parts. Does the BIble teach AGAINST homosexuality? Yes. Does it teach against premarital sex? Yes. etc. If you profess to follow Christ, you have to follow EVERYTHING His word teaches. We cannot pick and choose what we want. I graduated from Shorter and loved that place. I am proud Shorter is taking a stand for the cause of Christ.
I think it is something that ever since all of this happened and how so many have brought a negative view of Shorter into the public eye, Shorter has been so successful in a variety of areas. Take a look at the athletic teams…Shorter is normally pretty successful, but this was definitely a record setting year. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Blessing? Most definitely. Every time a protest has been planned or another letter in the newspaper that was not completely truthful or just straight up bashing of the university, something good always came along to bring some type of positive feeling back to the school.
If you don’t like what is going on, you do not have to support the school. You do not have to work there if you do not agree. However, if you are all claiming to be so Christian as well, you wouldn’t bash Shorter like has been done over the past year.
I am just sick of my alma mater getting a bad name not from what is going on at the school, but from lies and half truth followers of Christ. My main point. Believe all of the word of God or none of it. Just stop making the gospel what you want.
You are making a great many assumptions about people who refused to sign the lifestyle statements. As a fellow Shorter graduate let me explain to you why I am opposed to the direction that Shorter is headed. It really has nothing to do with the content of the lifestyle statements but the cold judgemental way , in which they were implemented. We as Christians are not to judge others. The administration basically told faculty agree with us and our interpretation of the Bible or get out. Even the disciples who had the advantage of Jesus’ earthly presence did not agree on everything. I hope you will at least think on these things!
I have read all the statements on this website, and thought about everything that has been written. The young men and women whether they are in college or not they are our future leaders God willing. But what society excepts today when it relates to morals or the lack of is outrageous.. We all no matter what your donomanation are to live by the Word of God, The Bible, not just parts of it but the entire Bible. I read in one of the comments where they stated the “new standards” the college was implementing there is nothing new about the lifte syle the word of
God says we are to live by he even made it very simple with the Ten Commanments. God did give us free will and if you don;t like or agree with something thats your choice, there are thousands of other schools that need teachers or students nobody is making or forcing it upon you. I thank God there are people in this day and time that are willing to stand up for Jesus and the word of God. Thank God I am a christain, everytime you turn on the T.V. you hear something about paryer not being aloud and look at what our nation and all the problems we face.What happened to “in God we Trust” As a nation we must pray, we must have faith, and we must live our life that is pleasing to God. I don’t know if anyone will even see this I noticed that these were posted back in 2012 but if you do please pray and be a voice for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father God “Abba” let the Holy Spirit guide you I know you have heard don’t just be hearers of the word but doers as well. God Bless this nation for we are in desperate times.Please live your life according to the Word of God. I am proud to say I am a child of God, I have been saved by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Spriit is my guide.