Category Archives: Tenure

MICHAEL WILSON TERMINATED

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.

Sincerely,

 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.

Sincerely,

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.

Yours,

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.

Sincerely,

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. 

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SCOPES AND SHORTER

In the summer of 1925, biology teacher John Scopes was on trial for illegally teaching the theory of evolution. The trial, soon to become known as the “Scopes Monkey Trial” drew spectators from around the state of Tennessee who feared that teaching evolution would destroy the very fabric of America. That trial, conducted almost 85 years ago, ended with John Scopes being fined $100.00.

The repercussions of the trial have echoed over and over in the ensuing years, but the mentality of a repressive Victorian society still exists.

At a 2002 meeting of the Louisiana College Board of Trustees, the following motion was introduced. Whether the motion was adopted or not, we do not know, but what is exhibited below reflects a mindset that has only grown more narrow. It ignores science, it discounts documented facts and buries its head to anything other than its restricted view. More importantly, it is the antithesis  of academic freedom and indeed, higher education itself.

For more information on the current state of Louisiana (Baptist) College, we suggest you read Accreditation: What Fundamentalism Eventually Costs You on the Save OBU website and the SACS re-accreditation report from December 2011.

WHEREAS “Liberalism” is the “Cancer” of Biblical Christianity specifically as it affects denominations and

WHEREAS, The “Hotbed” of “Liberalism” is most often cultivated in the colleges, universities and seminaries within the denomination; and

WHEREAS, this “Cancer” of “Liberalism” is sown and cultivated by selected faculty members within these institutes of higher learning; and

WHEREAS, the hiring of faculty and the awarding of tenure or tenure track to faculty is of the utmost importance; and

WHEREAS, The Louisiana Baptist Convention has entrusted the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College with the duty to protect the college from becoming less than Baptist in character; and

WHEREAS, the majority of Louisiana Baptists hold that: (1) All scripture is inerrant; (2)Homosexuality is not an acceptable life style but is an unacceptable and sinful life style and as such , not acceptable to Louisiana College; (3) Creationism – not evolutionism – is the proper view of the origin of man; (4) Abortion constitutes the murder of an innocent baby; and (5) the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message speaks clearly as to what Louisiana Baptists believe,

THEREFOR THE FOLLOWING MOTION IS RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED TO THE LOUISIANA COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES:

TENURE OR TENURE TRACK STATUS:

Before granting tenure and/or tenure track status to any faculty member of Louisiana (Baptist) College, the motion is made that the following factors be included in the present procedure for granting tenure and/or tenure track status:

  1. The candidate requesting tenure and/or tenure track status appear before the Academic Affairs Committee for a brief introduction and interview;
  2. The candidate submit a statement of opinion (one paragraph or less per issue) to the chairman of the Academic Affairs Committee ten (10) days prior to interview in regards to the following issues: (a) the inerrancy of Holy Scripture (b) the Baptist Faith and Message (c) the evolution theory; (d) abortion (e) homosexuality; and (f) the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and
  3. The candidate submit a letter of reference from their attending church pastor as to their Christian character and service.

If Shorter supporters do not stand up for her, this is surely where we are headed.