They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ Matthew 25: 44-45
The following was written by Michele Turner, a Shorter employee. We thank you, Michele, for sharing your experience with us.
I love being a therapist. I have been working in the mental health field for over 10 years and I’m a licensed professional counselor and a certified rehabilitation counselor. My background spans from working with the homeless populations in Boston to people with severe psychiatric and physical disabilities in Nashville.
However, In August 2006, I found my dream job in Rome, Georgia. I was hired as the Director of Student Support Services for Shorter College and started working with the most challenging, and yet by far my favorite, population of client—the college student. For four years I thrived in this position until it was cut short. In March 2010, my wonderful boss came in to my office and closed the door. She informed me that my contract was not going to be renewed. I asked her if I had done something wrong professionally. She assured me that my work was impeccable. I then looked her in the eye and asked if it was because I was Mormon. The answer was yes.
She told me that the Board of Trustees had been informed that I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and that they felt threatened having a Mormon in such personal and confidential setting with students.
After my boss left my office, my composure fell apart. I called my husband (a professor at Shorter) and I started to hyperventilate on the phone because I was crying so hard. I was devastated.
A few days later, I had a meeting with the president of the school, President Newman. He admitted to me that this was the most “un-Christian” thing to do, but that his hands were tied. The Board of Trustees had made the decision. President Newman offered me another position, one where I could be hidden somewhat from the Board of Trustees’ view. I gratefully accepted the offer since it provided me a way to maintain my health insurance and the ability to sustain myself and my family in this difficult economy.
Ironically, in the same year I was removed as the Director by the Board of Trustees, I was selected as “Staff Member of the Year” for my work in that same position by the faculty and staff. I felt such love and support from my Shorter family. I can honestly say that I have worked with some of the finest people I have ever known and have grown in my testimony of Christ because of them.
Sadly, a year and half later, I hardly recognize the Shorter that I love so much. I ache for the school that is a shadow of what it once was. With the new changes being instigated by the Board of Trustees, my husband and I no longer fit. We are forced out of a place that was our home. Fortunately, we have found employment elsewhere. I pray for all the others who are still looking.