You have hired a new employee for your business.  The employee comes with great recommendations from your primary stockholder.  He made a good impression during the interview process.  Your management team has assured you that THIS is the guy who can straighten out all the problems that have seemed to plague you recently.  Of course, you didn’t bother to do serious reference checks, nor did you go through a proper employment agency to find this guy, but you have no need to worry. After all, your stockholder has reviewed all of the applications and has assured you that this is the candidate that can work a miracle for you.

The employee comes on board and immediately proceeds to clean house. Out goes your traditional model. In comes his “new, improved” version.  Of course, he hasn’t taken the time to understand exactly what has made your business so successful. He hasn’t talked to stakeholders in your business, nor has he consulted with your employees to determine how your model operates, what its strengths and weaknesses are, or who your consumers are. All he needs to know is that he is in charge and your stockholder (who has no experience in your industry) is backing his decisions.  He has promised you that all of his changes will deliver.  You won’t lose sales, you won’t lose your stakeholders, you won’t lose significant employees – you’re going to see overwhelming success.

What do you do when he not only fails to deliver, but fails miserably and you realize you’re being manipulated? After all, he never fails to tell you what you want to hear, but things aren’t looking too good.

Final Fall enrollment numbers were announced on the Hill this week.

Fall 2012

1211 Traditional on the ground students

317 On-line students

1444 CAPP students

2972 Total students

The administrators on the Hill make interesting use of semantics.  In an article on the Shorter website, dated September 6, it was reported that “1528 traditional students are currently enrolled at Shorter”. The problem is, that report is not quite accurate, nor does it reflect the real state of the institution.

From the announcement, one might logically assume that there are 1528 bodies on the Rome campus. That would be an erroneous assumption. The report of 1528 TRADITIONAL students combines the traditional students – 1211, plus the online students – 317.   The announcement goes on to say “This is the third consecutive year that Shorter’s fall enrollment as topped 1,500.” Well, not so fast, Dr. Dowless. Let’s examine that claim.

Here are the Fall enrollment numbers from the 2011-12 Fact Book.


Prior to 2009, Shorter had no online programs. Though entering late into the online or distance education business, Shorter’s administrators realized that there was a vast market of students of all ages who lived nowhere near the Rome campus who were potential source of much needed income. In June of 2009, Shorter began offering an array of online general education courses but no 100% online degree programs.

In Fall 2010, Shorter reported 1555 Main campus students and 107 online students.  The following 100% online degree programs were offered: Associate of Science (AS), Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), and the Masters of Accountancy degree. While some of the Fall 2010 online enrollment might be attributed to off-campus students, since the program was new and relatively unknown to outside markets, the vast majority of fall students were still on-campus (traditional) students in hybrid programs which offered both on-line and on-ground courses.  It made sense, then, to combine the numbers of actual bodies on the Shorter campus with the numbers enrolled in the Online Program under the MAIN category.

 In the Fall of 2011, a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) was offered as 100% online. Online statistics were reported as 138 – a net gain of 31 online students. Shorter began to market its online program and distance learners became a focus. Now four degrees could be obtained online, by students of all ages. Shorter had no room for additional students on the Rome campus, but the internet made it possible for the world to come to Shorter via the Internet. (Since Fall 2011, a 100% online degree in Sports Management (BBA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Human Services degree has been added.)

It is important to note here that in academia, students under age 23 are considered “traditional” students, while the students over age 23 are considered NON-traditional students.

 Since the stand-alone number of non-traditional distance education students (those over age 23 and not on the Shorter campus) is not reported, we have no way of knowing how many of the 138 online students reported in Fall 2011 fall into this category, but since we know that Shorter was already bursting at the seams with residential students, it must be assumed that at least a portion of those reported fall into the non-traditional and/or off-campus category.  The gain that was reported was not significant enough to create a separate category for distance students and so the number was again incorporated into the MAIN category.

The Fall 2011 enrollment is reported as 1696 in the MAIN category. Even if we attributed all of the Online Program numbers as non-traditional/distance students, Shorter still had 1558 students on the campus.

Here is what the enrollment for Fall 2011 would most likely look like, if it had been reported as this year’s figures were:

1558 Traditional on the ground students

169 On-line students (combines Main and CAPPS numbers of online)

1975 CAPP students

3702 Total students

That’s 1,558 traditional, residential students on the Rome campus.

There are not 1,528 traditional students enrolled in Shorter this year. There are barely 1,200. That, dear readers, points to a loss of approximately 300 students from the Rome campus alone.

What we find interesting is that Shorter seems to confirm that number in a collection of brochures that we have obtained from potential students for an event known as Saturday at Shorter. The April 2012 event indicates a student body of 1500.  The October 2012 event indicates a student body of 1200. Just to assure yourselves that this is not a typographical error, note that the teacher/student ratio in the April brochure is 1/13, the October brochure reads 1/12.

Try multiplying 300 times $27,400 tuition per year. That’s a significant loss of income to a business.

Try imagining the effect of losing close to a quarter of your business inventory. Losing 300 students is a far cry from the loss of only 167 students that one employee reported to his employers.

Try misleading the marketplace, your stockholders, your stakeholders, and your employer with numbers that don’t match the real state of your business.

And we haven’t even looked at the CAPP numbers yet. Stay tuned.



Departure #88
Aimee Madden
Public Relations Specialist
4 years of service

Departure # 89
Ryan Haylock
Director of Information Technology
3 years of service

Departure # 90
Dr. Kelley Castlin-Gacutan
Asst. Professor of Education (CAPP)
1.5 years of service

     A couple of years ago, I heard a Baptist minister speak of how we have our public lives and our private lives. The premise of the message was how we often may look like we are doing things the right way publicly but behind the scenes, when we are alone, things are quite different. We feel, think, and do things that are just flat out wrong – the antithesis of our appearance to the rest of the world.

     My father also had some quips he would use to describe some qualities of people who interacted publicly quite differently than the way they really were in private. “Putting on airs” was one, “Boring with a big auger” was another. “March” was a name I heard to describe someone who would brag and boast with so much exuberance one would think of the March winds flowing from their mouth!

        The above-mentioned qualities are in full display at Shorter University. We see the flashing sign at the bottom of the hill. We hear glowing words from Gerald Harris of the Christian Index and the Dowless administration of wonderful hires, strong enrollment, and happy students. It is almost as if they want to say “Peace on the Hill and good will to students.”

As explained previously on this website, the new faculty do not have the overall seasoning or available mentorship from established faculty to be as effective as is required to prepare students for life after Shorter. However, all that is trumpeted publicly is how the quality of education on the Hill is improving. Privately, there has to be some semblance of concern about the mishmash of new Deans leading the legions of new faculty, unless the tin ear that is extended to alumni concerns is also lent to faculty and matters of learning.

        Regarding enrollment, all we hear publicly is how the enrollment is again over 1,500, and remains strong. Privately, there had to have been some gnashing of teeth while figuring out how to move figures around while conjuring up such an inflated number. Perhaps that style of math could be offered to students as a new course. (It would be deemed publicly to be dishonest, but apparently in private, all is fair.)

Speaking of students, all we hear publicly is how everyone is happy while skipping amongst the gardens and studying under the trees in front of the new multimillion dollar Nelson and Trudy Price Learning Center, while a gentle breeze may inspire other students to nap or throw a ball. Oh how great it seems to be a student getting educated behind the pearly gate of Shorter Hill. Privately, it is quite a different matter. Some students, especially Juniors and Seniors, are expressing legitimate concerns about the education they are receiving. Disorganization among faculty is rampant. The students feel as if they are on a rudderless vessel. How will this haphazard teaching and leadership help the students get into grad school or pass their boards?

        Why does Dowless and Company engage in bragging about the blessings of Shorter? Why are they “putting on airs” about the quality of education and student life on the Hill? It seems they are “boring with a big auger” through constructing new dorms and negotiating to purchase more property, seemingly to prove they are acting boldly and moving forward with the “new” way of doing business at Shorter University.

      Actually, this “new” way of doing business is REALLY what the private life of Shorter is all about. The condescending attitude to pre-existing faculty and staff is a quality of the new private way. A power structure that flows from the president and Nelson Price, instead of through normal administrative channels that are in place at other institutions of higher learning is a quality of the new private way. Hiring faculty and staff without consulting the human resource department is the new private way. Pulling enrollment figures seemingly out of thin air is the new private way. These are ALL things that the public are not to see or to hear of happening.

        How many of the trustees are only listening and paying attention to the public life of Shorter? There is a board of trustees meeting that will be occurring shortly. Surely there must  be one, two, or more that would dare to step forward and do their fiduciary responsibility. Surely at least one will look beyond the press releases, and discover what is going on in the private life of Shorter. They need to ask the hard public questions and search out the shadowy private answers.

        Those in authority may tell any curious trustees to “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”… but that man is a story for a different day.




Shorter University Departure #87
Mr. Britt Madden, Jr.
Executive Director of Admissions, CAPP
3 years of service

Before the academic year began, we warned our readers that Shorter’s hiring of individuals with no terminal degree, who had not taught in college or who, in some cases, had no teaching experience at all would be costly to students.

The National Football League just learned the consequences of hiring poorly trained substitutes for their games. That poor decision raised the ire of the fans, caused doubt in the final scores of games, confused the players and had owners and managers up in arms.  At the moment, the students of the former School of Science, now the Department of Natural Sciences are paying the price of poor hiring of replacement faculty that is reflected in what can only be described as barely suppressed chaos on the Hill.

Think, for a moment, of a business or university, in this case, in terms of the work staff.  Most companies (and colleges) realize that there is importance in retaining a balance in the workforce. Long-term employees hold a historical memory of the institution. They provide context for ideas and improvements in the business. They act as mentors to new employees. They know what works, and what doesn’t in their field and they help guide new employees toward success at the institution. Of equal importance is the stability that they provide to the institutional workforce.

 Mid-range employees are generally the breeding ground for potential management. Mid-range employees are often tested with more responsibility.  It is often where the owner of the business or institution determines the true value of an employee as a long-term hires. In academia, the value of mid-term employees is expressed in tenure. If a professor seems to be a fit for the institution and provides the expected excellence in teaching, they are placed on what is known as tenure track.

Due in large measure to the actions of the GBC, Nelson Price and the Dowless administration, resignations were high and costly in the School of Science. Good managers know that when you lose key personnel, you work to replace those individuals with others equally skilled for the positions.  Unfortunately, Dowless and company are not good managers. As a result, the Dean of Arts and Sciences has no background in science, the associate dean of sciences holds only a Master’s degree and most of the new faculty either don’t know their subject matter or don’t know how to teach – or in some cases, are guilty of both.

When nursing faculty are telling students that deoxygenated blood is blue (look it up, it’s a myth), when ecology professors believe and teach that salmon spawn in estuaries, it isn’t the result of a re-alignment with creationism, this is just egregious academic instruction.

When ecology classes stay indoors and when newly-hired professors consider themselves exempt from the long-standing and strictly enforced policy of absolutely no cell phone, including texting and no hand-held communication device use during the weekly science seminar, something is seriously amiss.

Students are crying out to those of us who will listen. They deserve to be heard.  Juniors and seniors, especially, know that their success in grad school and in the nursing field depends on receiving accurate information. They know that if they perform poorly on grad school entrance exams or fail their nursing boards, then their time at Shorter is for naught.

They go to the faculty for help, and despite Shorter’s open door policy, they find the new faculty either not in the office or holed up behind closed doors during office hours.

Many of their questions are in regard to the syllabus for the class. A syllabus is a contract between professor and student.  The professor lists texts to be used, clearly delineates the course expectations and outline, explains the grading system for the course and assigns point value to each of the components (tests, exams, in-class participation, research papers, extra credit, if available). Syllabi provide context for the student and lets them know what is expected of them in order to earn a good grade.

It seems that with some new professors, the guidelines of the syllabus are being ignored or arbitrarily changed. We are also hearing reports of revised and often arbitrary point assignment, testing on materials not taught in class or assigned and last-minute availability of online exams. In other words, the professor is breaking the contract with the student.

 To add to the tension, there are wide-spread allegations of cheating. Students tell of being accused of stealing exams in order to sell them. The exam was later found by the professor in a stack of graded exams. Other students are being accused of cheating on exams or assigned work.  Why does this suddenly seem to be a problem on the Hill? These sorts of accusations are extremely serious and should be of concern to the administration. When the accusations are false, that is a glaring failure in professional behavior of the faculty and the administration who hired them.

In other words, the NFL fiasco looks like a cake walk compared to what students on the Hill are experiencing.

Students, don’t give up – it is your education that is at stake. You have a voice.

  1. Document the class, date, time, other witnesses and a description of the complaint.
  2. Follow protocol and work your way up the chain of command. If the professor isn’t listening, go to the department chair.
  3. If you receive no satisfaction there, go to the Assistant Dean of Sciences.
  4.  Dr. Sabrena Parton is the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.. Address your complaints to her, in writing.
  5. File a formal complaint with the Dean of Students or Provost, if necessary. Be aware that there is a written policy which addresses your fear of retaliation against you.

Parents, are you listening?

 The process is tedious, but if you follow procedure, file a written complaint and receive no satisfaction, let your parents know. Shorter is required by SACS to keep a record of all complaints, including student complaints, faculty complaints and outside complaints, and document their resolution.

And remember – we are listening.

Go Hawks! Part II


Alumni, have you received your Alumni Governing Board Survey via email yet? Be sure to check your spam/junk box if it did not appear in your in box.

Though there are not any questions that directly relate to your satisfaction with what has happened on the Hill, there are several comment boxes that you can use.

If you did not receive a survey, but would like to complete one, may we recommend that you call the alumni department and ask that one be sent to your email address.

With no true champion of the alumni who feel disenfranchised, serving on the AGB, now is the time to have your voice heard.

Once upon a time, Shorter’s football season was confined to a card (not) listing a season’s opponents. Homecoming was marked by an asterisk placed halfway down the card. A good time was had by all and sports fans looked forward to basketball and baseball seasons later in the year.

Shorter still has football cards—only now, there are real opponents listed, and Homecoming involves a real game at Barron Stadium. There is progress.

Sports play a major role in college life for athletes, students, alumni, and the community at large. Shorter offers football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, golf, tennis, and lacrosse, to name a few sports—something for everyone.

While you are cheering your team on to victory, we present for your consideration: Athletic versus Academic spending.

Spending for athletic programs is on the rise, according to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. Overall, spending on athletic programs has increased by 38 percent, while spending on academics has increased only 20 percent. This general trend has manifested itself in disturbing specifics at schools like the University of North Carolina, damaging the reputation of the whole school, not just the athletics department.

UNC’s football coach, athletic director, chief fundraiser, prominent faculty, and the chancellor are gone, the result of compromised academic integrity and financial mismanagement arising from the school’s athletic program.

It goes without saying that now, valuable time and resources must be diverted to deal with the problem.

Now, are we saying Shorter is in the same boat with Tar Heels? No. Are we saying Shorter University, with its quickly expanding athletic department, could look upon UNC as a cautionary tale. Yes.

For most of Shorter’s history, athletics have played a part of life on The Hill. In the last several years, football has arrived on the hill. Shorter has moved from NAIA to NCAA, Division 2. Shorter now finds itself at crossroads: Does it remain focused on academics or pursue the road much traveled and find itself mired in the same muck UNC finds itself in now?

Now consider this –

Dr. Carolyn Ward, former Chairman of the Shorter Board of Trustees certainly worried about such things. Even after her time as chairman, she kept an eye on Shorter and on what was happening with regard to athletics. She expressed her concern about lowered admission and academic standards in an email to then-chairman, Nelson Price.

In an email dated August 3, 2007, Price hastened to assure Dr. Ward that football “has done wonders for PR in the Rome area and been revenue positive”, but goes on to say “Inevitably it will at some point likely lower the GPA. Everything possible will be done to minimize this. Bringing in the athletes will do nothing negative to reduce the quality of education afforded the more studious students ” He goes on to add “Inevitably bringing in the athletes will result in more students with less academic capacity.” He was right.


Institution Name SAT Verbal

25thpercentile75th percentileSAT Math

25thpercentile75th percentileReporting PeriodSHORTER490610470590Fall 2004SHORTER420550430550Fall 2011

Does all of this bode well for Shorter? Not in our opinion. According to the Knight Commission, rapidly expanding programs with a multiplicity of offerings often point to an effort to raise overall academic standing within the athletic community. The expansion comes with considerable cost – in coaches, equipment, rental for playing fields and transportation to away games.

When excellence in academics gives way to a public relations campaign focused solely on athletics, when payment to the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority for the Spring 2012 use of Barron Stadium must wait to be paid from Fall enrollment funds and when, to put it in Price’s vernacular, “less serious” students are necessary on campus to improve the financial bottom line, everyone loses.

In his article The Untenable Dichotomy in College Athletics, Warren K. Zola, Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs, Carroll School of Management at Boston College describes three principles that ensure college athletics remain true to their institution’s mission:

  1. Academic standards and integrity
  2. The best interests of the students
  3. Accountability

In short, never lose sight of the school’s true mission – academic excellence. Ultimately, athletics adds to the college experience for everyone—the students, the student athletes, and the community in general. Shorter University can ensure the experience remains positive. Remember why you are there—remember who is in charge.


UPDATE: We aren’t the only ones concerned about Shorter’s bottom line.

A few days ago, the Rome News-Tribune published an editorial regarding the enrollment at Shorter and Berry for the Fall semester.  The editorial wisely cautioned the reader not to read too much into the numbers that were published for each college.  Little do they know what good advice that was, however; numbers do matter.

Berry College showed a significant upsurge in enrollment. They should be rightly proud of their new record. They reported 716 new freshmen enrolled for the semester. On the other hand, Shorter has been noticeably reluctant to publish their numbers. When the numbers did come, Shorter’s announcement gave a number of people pause.

The announcement began with the heralding of the university’s Princeton Review rankings.  Now, Berry College had reason to cheer when it was named as one of the 322 most environmentally conscious colleges for 2012. As its announcement, and a reading of the Princeton award qualifications state, the award was based on a 2011 survey of colleges across the United States and Canada.  (In the US News college rankings, Berry ranks#124 in the list of National Liberal Arts Colleges, Shorter is reported as “rank not listed”. Berry is ranked #230 in private colleges on Forbes Best Colleges list. Shorter is not listed at all.)

Dr. Dowless, on the other hand, announced that “We are pleased with the recognition that the Princeton Review as again given us (emphasis, the author’s).  The truth of the matter is that unlike the Green award given to Berry, the Best Colleges rankings are only formally conducted once every 3 years.  In viewing Shorter’s profile, one finds that Shorter University is listed as Shorter College, and comments are still the same as they were back in November 2011. Chances are pretty good that a formal survey was not conducted last year; therefore, Shorter is still on the Best Regional Colleges in the Southeast list. We would be appreciative if any of last year’s students let us know if they were surveyed in the 2011-2012 academic year.

Of far more interest to us is the enrollment figure that was given. Dr. Dowless takes great pains to announce that Shorter has had enrollment over 1,500 for the third straight year. What he does not say, however, is far more telling. He has announced that the enrollment for Fall 2012-2013 for traditional (normal college age) students is 1528. According to the Shorter Fact Books, the main campus enrollment for 2010-2011 was 1555. The main campus enrollment for 2011-12 was 1696, including 52 main campus graduate students. The Princeton Review undergraduate figure is given as 1642. That would indicate a loss of 114 students for the current academic year. The whole truth is that while the reported figure is above 1,500, it is down substantially from last year and is also down from the 2010-2011.

Normally, Shorter, like Berry would report the number of new freshmen that it had on campus and would break down the student enrollment, if asked by the local paper. This year, they refused to do so. Why would numbers that usually were readily given now be kept so close to the vest. After all, the Shorter announcement trumpets “strong enrollment”.  If enrollment is strong, does it not stand to reason that the university would be happy to provide that breakdown?

If you have not driven to the Shorter campus recently, we would suggest you do so.  Numerous reports from frequent visitors to the hill and from students indicate that there are plenty of parking spaces available this year. Not so in previous years.  Students report that their class sizes are down, many of them substantially. Freshmen are bewildered as to why the robust classes that they saw on their visit to campus now contain far fewer students than they were led to believe would  be in their program. Construction on the new dormitory has been slowed.

Last year, approximately 200 students were housed in off-campus apartments. This year, no off-campus housing is being used to house students.  There are reports of at least 40 beds available in the residence halls. If Shorter is only down by 114 students, does it not stand to reason that all of the residence hall beds would be filled and at least some off-campus housing would be necessary? The whole truth is that simple math would tell you that it would be.

We suspect that the real enrollment number that Shorter is down this year is somewhere between 260 and 300. Shorter trustees, we are asking that you demand an accounting of exact figures at your board meeting in October.  Be sure you ask for non-duplicated numbers ( duplicating numbers is a real no-no to federal reporting agencies) and remember that the whole truth is that  you have a fiduciary responsibility for the success of the school.

A loss of 114 students means a loss of revenue of over three million dollars. If the numbers are, as we suspect, higher than that, GBC church members better start digging in their pockets. A three million dollar loss is severe enough, but more than that could substantially cripple the school, and it will be up to GBC churches to decide whether to pony up more money to the Cooperative Program in order to foot the bill.


In the television series “Star Trek-The Next Generation”, there was an alien being known as the “Borg”. This entity floated through space, absorbing any life form with which it came in contact. Individuality no longer existed. Everyone became part of the collective “Borg”. Any opposition was silenced by elimination, except for that of the central character of the show – a man named Picard. He was able to hold on to a thread of his individual uniqueness, and was eventually able to escape the clutches of the Borg.

How does this sci-fi story relate to Shorter? It seems there is a GCB (Georgia Baptist Convention) “Borg” that has absorbed Shorter Trustees, administration, faculty, and alumni relations. If this was an act born solely of a Christian mindset, a love for Jesus, I would be wholeheartedly supportive of such a measure. There is nothing more important than a relationship with Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the “Borg” at Shorter is cast from a different mold. Its mindset is rooted in POWER.

Control of the trustees is a huge achievement for the “GBC Borg”. With the trustees being part of the collective vision, no potential idea outside of this narrow-minded vision is considered. One idea is presented and all seem to nod in collective agreement. They seem to forget that the Board of Trustees’ fiduciary responsibility is to the well being of the school, not the well being of the GBC.

Another important achievement of the “GBC Borg” is the absorption of Shorter’s administration. President Dowless, whose individuality was absorbed long ago, does not seem to see Shorter University as an institution of higher learning, but as a subsidiary of the Baptist mission organization. Any suggestion or alternate view to his plans for Shorter has been ignored or squelched by firing. Many strong Christian men and women were fired in this manner. He has surrounded himself with like-minded thinkers from the GBC collective vision. By doing so, he has total control of the day-to-day activities at Shorter.

This brings us to faculty. Many left because of the now infamous statement of conduct that was presented by the Trustees and President. What this served to accomplish was to eliminate anyone who did not adhere to control of their freedom to live and teach, no matter their Christian beliefs. “Borgs” are bullies, and threats of termination did and do abound because of what might happen in the classroom as well as out of the classroom.

Now let’s examine the Alumni Governing board and alumni in general. The AGB once was a channel for two-way communication between alumni and administration. Now that it has been absorbed by the “GBC/Shorter Borg”, it trumpets only the new collective vision and how wonderful and glorious the GBC-chosen interlopers and their changes are. Instead of conveying concerns of hundreds of alumni, they tell the alumni it is wrong to speak against the supreme leadership. “Join us,” they say, “The OLD Shorter is dead. Its time for the NEW Shorter”.

But there are a large number of alumni who do not care for this new vision, not because of some wistful remembrance of olden times on the Hill, but out of concern for current and future students at Shorter, whose education deserves to be strong and focused on a pursuit of Truth, taught by instructors who teach with high personal and professional standards that are grounded within that individual instructor, not determined by the President’s office.

Many other concerns by these alumni are being ignored. Many alumni dissenters are called liars. Problem is, alumni cannot be fired, their voices cannot be squelched.

As it becomes apparent that more and more voices are rising in resistance to the GBC-Shorter “Borg”, perhaps these alumni resisters can serve as sort of a “Picard” hero and eventually help Shorter escape the clutches of a vision that could eventually strip Shorter of any continuity of her heritage.


If you believe that what we have been reporting as happening at Shorter is either a) untrue or b) isolated, we recommend that you read this post at the Save OBU website.  If what you read disturbs you, then imagine this incident happening times 51.

Are we painting with a wide brush? Yes, yes we are. The same lack of any sort of fair, ethical hiring processes for the majority of the new appointments at Shorter were denied at Shorter as well.  As a result of the practices of Don Dowless and the Shorter Board of Trustees, the new human resources director walked out after six weeks. (Ask Don Dowless where the applications and files are for many of his new hires. They aren’t in the human resources office where they belong.) The same sort of individuals willing to forsake the sciences in order to follow the drumbeat of fundamentalist creationism are now sitting in faculty seats at Shorter, and whether it becomes apparent today or tomorrow or next year, it IS coming.

For too long now, the fundamentalists have operated under a cloak of secrecy, making slow, calculated moves intended to destroy any semblance of open, free exploration of ideas and the pursuit of truth. First they took the seminaries, now they intend to take over the colleges.  How do they do it? By one carefully placed, easily manipulated Board of Trustee member,  Alumni Governing Board member and one faculty member at a time – or in the case of Shorter, in a sweeping replacement of all Board members and 51 new faculty.

These actions are not going unnoticed within the academic community. The repercussions for the students of these schools will be profound.

Fundamentalism is an insidious cancer determined to destroy the very fabric of academics in order to increase and maintain control of those who follow the GBC and SBC banners. It is up to Shorter’s alumni to stand up and stand up now against this abomination.

Save our Shorter is calling for some alternatives for its alumni and discussions will begin soon.


Go Hawks” seems to be almost as important a combination of words at Shorter in this era as any combination of Biblical phrases. The following musings are not intended to disparage any student, faculty, or administrator currently on the Hill”, but to point out the use of this term in a manner which overlaps every aspect of Shorter and the possible motivation behind this repetitive usage.

As an alumnus, I received an invitation to homecoming. This two day series of events is intended to allow alumni to gather together… and do what? Upon examining the itinerary, the only conclusion I can reach is that it will give many opportunities for alumni to say “GO HAWKS”! Most every planned activity on the mailed invitation orbits around a pep rally, alumni sporting events, and the cheering of current Shorter athletic competitions slated for the weekend. It is indisputable that these young student/athletes deserve our heartfelt support as they compete in their chosen skill of study. Why the effort to make almost every alumni activity a sporting activity? (GO HAWKS!)

I have also seen documents of correspondence sent by alumni voicing concerns about actions taken by the Shorter administration in recent months. These concerns are generally answered by Bert Epting, a Shorter employee who serves as a liaison between alumni and Shorter leadership, an unenviable task these days. Mr. Epting seems to be a good man, but it seems he has to toe the party line. Every letter of response to concerned alumni has the words GO HAWKS right before his signature. This seems to trivialize whatever concerns that were voiced. Mr. Epting is not to be singled out in his usage of these two words, for it can be used for any occurrence at Shorter to capture the spirit of the administration. Here are some examples:

-Fine arts program gutted and began anew… GO HAWKS!

-Nursing program turned on its ear… GO HAWKS!

-Science program in flux…GO HAWKS!

-Respected professors and staff run off or fired… GO HAWKS!

-Any contrary opinion to Dowless/Price vision ignored… GO HAWKS!

What is the motivation to use GO HAWKS at every turn? Perhaps it is to remind us of our mascot as a symbol of a Shorter student displaying prowess in the field and in the classroom.

More fitting would be to reflect the shift of focus at Shorter from academic to athletic achievement. The plan may be to attract new donors who will be excited about football and other athletics on the “hill”. These could replace longtime donors who have withheld support because of the seeming abandonment of Shorter’s longtime focus as an institution of academic excellence and replacing it with a focus on athletic excellence. GO HAWKS!


For 5 months, Save Our Shorter has endeavored to share with our readers what we perceive to be an assault on the traditions, Christian values, and academic excellence at Shorter University. Our intent has been to bring you factual information to help you understand what is happening on the Hill.

We have been accused by supporters of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s actions at Shorter of disseminating lies about the status of the current situation.  Sadly, we have been accused by some who should be our strongest supporters, of being angry bullies who should just say a prayer over the bones of a once-great Shorter, and move on. We have been labeled as left-wing liberals intent on destroying Christian values. We have been dismissed as the voice of an angry few.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are many. You know our names. We have stood before you in a classroom or helped you as you worked your way through your degree. We sit beside you in church. When we see each other, we share memories of “how it used to be” on the hill. We say hello to you in the grocery store, while pumping our gas, as we stand in line to vote.  We know each other. And we are devoted to telling you the truth.

When we began this blog, we told you we were dedicated to telling you the truth; here is what we told you:

  • Shorter has NOT always belonged to the Georgia Baptist Convention. Time and again, the GBC has failed to financially support this institution.  For over 73 of Shorter’s 139 years, the GBC had no control over the administration of the school. Every falling out between the school and the GBC has been over the lack of financial support and/or the demand for too much control. Contributions of 4.2% of Shorter’s annual budget should not give the GBC license to determine the academic direction of the school.
  • Shorter is NOT owned by the GBC.  The GBC is the sole member of the corporation, and therefore has control of how the school is operated, but no group or individual owns Shorter. It is a non-profit corporation, which has its status because it provides a service to the community.
  • Shorter faculty and staff were angry about the imposition of the Personal Lifestyle Statement, the Statement of Faith and the Biblical Principles on the Integration of Faith and Learning.  Issues included but were not limited to 1) Avowing Biblical inerrancy 2) the demand for conformation to a specific fundamentalist viewpoint 3) academic freedom.
  • A survey revealed an intent by faculty to leave the institution rather than conform to the above three documents and a vote of “no confidence” in Dr. Dowless by 89% of those responding to the survey.
  • We told you that prior to their March meeting, the Shorter Board of Trustees each received a packet of information with survey results and other documents that should have been of grave concern. The board chose to ignore the information that was sent to them.
  • We have also reported and in some instances, printed the dozens of letters and emails that were sent to Dr. Dowless, Dr. Price or the members of the Board of Trustees.
  • We warned of a massive faculty exodus and that has occurred. We did not address the issues of staff resignations, but those, too, have been staggering and will have a profound effect on the students
  • .Reported incidences of restriction of academic freedom.  We have also explained the necessity of academic freedom within higher education.
  • We have told you of the firings at least three individuals for no greater reason than their perceived incompatibility with the new regime. One was a 22-year employee of Shorter and was much loved and respected by faculty and students alike. Two were Shorter alumni who despite any misgivings they may or may not have had, gave Shorter their best.  We have reported the demotion of the chief academic officer (Provost) and the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, both of whom had served Shorter well.
  • We reported the questionable practices in the hiring procedures for new members of the administration and faculty.
  • We reported the resignation of a Human Resources Director, who had only been on the job for 6 weeks, reportedly because of those hiring irregularities.
  • We reported the conflict between the Rome Mayor’s version of her involvement with the Shorter Board of Trustees and the administration’s contention that there was a “misunderstanding”.  Shorter administration never addressed the use of the mayor’s name in the commencement program, despite the fact that the mayor had explicitly said that she was NOT a member of the Board of Trustees, prior to the commencement program’s appearance.
  • We have expressed our concern about the multiple hires from Charleston Southern, the lack of substantial (and in some cases, appropriate) credentials of some of the recent faculty hires and our concern about the quality of education that will be offered on the Hill under the GBC’s control. (We have copies of an email sent from a current faculty member telling the students that all quizzes and tests will be “open book”.)

These are the issues we have presented on these pages. Neither Dr. Dowless, Nelson Price nor the Board of Trustees has adequately addressed these issues to the satisfaction of donors, alumni,faculty, many GBC members and the public at large.

 There are many more issues of which we are aware. When we have verifiable documentation, we will reveal those as well.

Are we bullies? Bullies, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, use their strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. We are observing what is happening on the Hill and telling you what we see. Our strength is used to those call attention to those who have abused the power given them to take advantage of others. We are speaking truth to power and speaking truth to you.

We have been told by some that Shorter is dead, but she is not. Yesterday, students full of bright promise began their classes at Shorter. They did not see banners with LUX VERITAS flying from the street lamps. They were not greeted by a full complement of staff to help them through the myriad tasks necessary to be a student. Their classes had fewer students and too many of their professors, who understood that higher education was a business of collaborative learning in an open environment where questioning was encouraged and science embraced, were gone.

Donors: Are you satisfied with the way your dollars have been spent? When you gave your donations for the library, were you satisfied with it being named after Nelson and Trudy Price? Are your dollars furthering the cause that impelled you to give in the first place? Are your scholarships giving the students who receive them the type of education that you have come to expect from Shorter?

Alumni: Do you feel any obligation to pass on the legacy that you inherited? Do you feel any commitment to the teachings of your Shorter professors? Are you concerned about the welfare of the young people who enter your alma mater as students?

 Former faculty: Are you willing for your reputation to be smeared by those who call you a “cancer,” whose work is contrary to the teachings of Christ? Do you feel any responsibility for those who remain on the hill though their hearts are torn, who battle every day to keep doing the right thing for their students?

 Members of Georgia Baptist Convention churches: Can you reconcile what you’ve read here with the glowing reports about Shorter you’ve read in the Christian Index? Do you feel comfortable in asking questions and demanding answers about what is being done with your Cooperative Program donations?

Shorter Parents:  Are you concerned about the quality of education and the fallout from this turmoil that your child will receive on the Hill? Are sports rankings enough for you? Are you comfortable with the idea that your precious child may be short-changed in their education and indoctrinated in fundamentalist views?

Romans: The quality of that school that sits up on the Hill reflects your values too? Are you willing to lose the reputation of having two highly respected institutions of higher learning in your town? Is one really enough? Does having the nation look at Rome as a backward, bigoted community who fosters fundamentalism sit well on your shoulders? How does that reputation affect your chances of drawing industry and growth into your community?

How great is your commitment to Shorter?  We need you to join us. We need for you to stand up for more than a memory of times gone by; stand up for what created that memory. We need your commitment to action. In the weeks ahead, we will be calling on you to respond in tangible ways. We will ask you to demand that balance be restored at Shorter so that it can resume its legacy of being a light on the Hill and a teacher of truth – an example to the world of a tradition of academic excellence nurtured in a truly Christian environment.









I am a proud graduate of Shorter College, class of 1988.  My years spent there were very special to me.  I grew so much as a student and as a person because of the professors, classmates, and overall environment I was subject to during my time on the “hill”.  Over the years, I have watched Shorter grow and evolve. New buildings, renovations, satellite campuses, online courses…UNIVERSITY STATUS!  However, no matter how much it grew, when I would go to visit the campus and check in on my professors and Gary Davis in the post office (no trip would be complete without seeing him), the heartbeat of the original intimate learning atmosphere was strong. I felt at home!

I also began to observe another occurrence that I was not quite sure how to comprehend: the Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) / Shorter Trustee battle and subsequent takeover of full authority by the GBC.  At first I thought it would not be a big deal, after all it is a Baptist school. Well, as events unfolded, especially over the past year, it is a VERY big deal.

As an entity to govern local churches in the Southern Baptist denomination in the state of Georgia, the GBC is well organized and useful. Many strong Christian leaders perform ministerial duties that are important to the local Baptist churches and outreach ministries under the Baptist wing. However, viewing what has transpired at Shorter recently, I question whether running an institution of higher learning needs to be included in these outreach ministries. While the governmental structure of a local church (with GBC oversight) works well in that particular context, governing a university requires a much more diversified approach. There should be a willingness to listen to and merge multiple and sometimes divergent viewpoints that will create a strong educational chord that uses these viewpoints as its fibers. This environment of different ideas should be devoid of single-minded dogma.

While “Transforming Lives Through Christ” is a wonderful concept, the methodology of having President Dowless in a pastoral role with the Board of Trustees serving as a choir of Deacons and the GBC providing supreme authority seems to be transforming Shorter into a missionary preparatory academy. This is not the purpose of Shorter University. The purpose should be to provide a strong diversified education for students that prepare them for the diverse educational/career opportunities that will follow their years on the “hill”. Not every student has missionary or pastoral aspirations.

It is my wish that a congruence of ideas and beliefs can occur at Shorter that will allow students to return to their alma mater in years to come and be able to hear the same heartbeat that I once heard on my visits, not the drumbeat of single-mindedness that is echoing throughout the Rome area and beyond that is being pounded at this time.

Submitted by an alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous.