To Prospective Shorter Students:
We are a richly diverse group of alumni, employees, students, and friends of Shorter University, previously known as Shorter College. We are appreciative of your interest in our school as a potential place for continuing your education. As you might imagine, we love Shorter and want to see her thrive in the increasingly competitive world of higher education. It is our love, in fact, that drives the very heart of this website. Over the last decade, Shorter has been mired in a quiet but pervasive tug-of-war, and we fear that the institution we cherish is being lost. Loss of academic freedom and religious tolerance threaten the integrity and high academic standards of a historically well-respected liberal arts institution.
Shorter University has been a landmark institution in the Rome and Georgia Baptist communities for over a century and she has been a beacon on a hill for these communities throughout her history. We hold Shorter to her motto of “Lux et Veritas” — Light and Truth — and fear that recent developments in her history will dampen her academic light and muffle the academic and spiritual truths that we believe are revealed to each individual. We strongly encourage you to explore this website, as well as perform your own research on the institution and its recent practices while considering Shorter’s place in your future. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments.
Our concerns regarding Shorter’s future are many. They range from unclear expectations of faculty to adhere to a particular form of religious dogma, to censorship of one of the University’s most prestigious and well-recognized programs, to the systematic removal of distinguished professors in the Department of Religion to concerns about the viability of continued accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
The most dangerous area of uncertainty lies in SACS accreditation concerns. Shorter’s Board of Trustees has, in recent years, begun to slowly restrict the freedoms of her students and faculty in the pursuit of a “quality higher education” and “academic excellence”, as found in its Mission Statement. The most frequently expressed concern is that the Georgia Baptist Convention, which now appoints all of Shorter’s Board of Trustees, exerts “undue influence” on the school’s Board of Trustees and the Shorter administration. This is a clear violation of SACS accreditation requirements. The following facts illustrate “undue influence” by the Georgia Baptist Convention:
- Several programs have been seriously affected by far-reaching censorship by the President and Board of Trustees. The most egregious example lies in the Music and Theatre Departments, in which works, considered by the highly respected faculty of these departments to be seminal to a degree seeking student’s studies, have been censored by the administration if they contain any mention of licentiousness, alcohol consumption, or otherwise “immoral” acts, regardless of the context in which these character flaws are portrayed. To date, 12 of the 21 current faculty have either announced retirement or are leaving for other schools.We consider this to be an especially disturbing trend, as 11.79% of degrees conferred in 2010 were to students in the Visual or Performing Arts category as defined by the National Center for Education Statistics; the only other degree categories which had a higher percentage of conferred degrees in this reporting year were Education and Business/Marketing. This seeming lack of concern for a robust, complete, and well-rounded Fine and Performing Arts curriculum for some of the school’s most well-known and well-respected programs threatens the academic integrity of the curriculum.
- Highly regarded, dedicated employees who worked tirelessly for the school in the Alumni Relations Office were fired suddenly, and without due cause, although their performance was not once questioned while employed. These employees were asked to sign the Personal Lifestyle Statement, which they did. They were told after signing the statement that they did not fit the direction of the institution.
- The school was recently given both international and domestic press coverage for its controversial Personal Lifestyle Statement, required to be signed by all faculty and staff who desire to remain employed at Shorter University. To be able to fulfill her promise of “academic excellence” and “quality higher education,” Shorter must also allow her faculty to be members of a free marketplace of ideas.
- Many of us have voiced our concerns, as have hundreds of other concerned members of Shorter’s extended community. However, these concerns seem to fall on deaf ears. After the initial flurry of complaints, letters, and meetings, the President refused to see any alumnus or student who wished to voice concerns, and insinuated that he was also ignoring e-mails and letters sent in reaction to the Lifestyle Statement and other concerns. This flies directly in the face of the school’s grievance policy for the public, and student complaint policy.
Over the years, many in our group, as well as countless others, have recommended Shorter for the very reasons that are now being altered. We knew an open and diverse community of learners who, through reasonable discourse and learning, challenged one another to grow academically and spiritually to be productive members of their discipline and their world at large. It is because of these concerns that we must caution you to learn all you can about Shorter’s current status. Your educational and professional futures are at stake. You have the right to all of the information available before making an informed decision about your future. Finally, in light of the recent developments, we urge you to thoroughly question all parties about any reservations you may have in regard to joining the Shorter community.