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Shorter University A School That Closes Doors And Narrows Minds

I suppose that we shouldn’t expect a school with a name like Shorter University to think big. With recent changes in the administrative policies, the scope of education at the university has recently become smaller than ever.

In 2011, Shorter University had a faculty of just 109 instructors. However, in October of last year, a few years after the Georgia Baptist Convention’s control of the university was enforced by the Supreme Court of Georgia, the school’s administration presented employees with a new set of requirements. Employees would have to sign “lifestyle statements”, promising to engage in religious worship at local Christian churches, and vowing not to engage in or support homosexuality or extramarital sex.

college of intolerance and ignoranceAs a result of the new requirements, 59 faculty members, plus other employees at the school, have declared their intention to leave Shorter University at the end of this school year. Only 12 percent of faculty have decided to sign the draconian lifestyle standards so far.

So, when Shorter University reconvenes this autumn, it will be mostly with new professors, who don’t know each other, and have no history of working with the institution. They’ll have one thing in common, though: They’ll all be ideologically screened to be in line with the beliefs that the administrators at Shorter University are willing to accept. Students at Shorter will be learning certain kinds of information only – and not because it’s accurate information, but because the information has been judged by the Shorter authorities to be politically correct.

Most parents, when they send their children off to college, are looking for an experience that will enable the full development of their children into adults, in a setting where students are able to grapple with the realities of the world, building a mature self-concept and set of intellectual abilities that is founded in honest debate and open access to information. Shorter University won’t be delivering that kind of educational experience. Instead, Shorter University students will gain their degrees without having full access to information. Shorter students will be trained to follow a narrow course that has been selected for them, kept in the status of children, in a controlled environment where the educational philosophy is that the less students learn about the world, the better.

Shorter University will be offering degrees of ignorance, building a reputation for graduates who know less, can do less, and who have not been fully tested with exposure to the full range of ideas and information available to most university students. Shorter University students will carry with them an association with bigotry and intolerance. Diplomas from such an institution of education will qualify Shorter graduates to work for small range of employers within a small ideological territory. Who will want to graduate with that kind of handicap?

4 comments to Shorter University A School That Closes Doors And Narrows Minds

  • Mike S

    This is exactly the same sort of college-as-indoctrination factory charge the right wing nuts level at proper universities that teach real intellectual disciplines.

    This curators of this “university” are made of the same stuff as the ideologues who condemned Galileo to die in house arrest for daring to report what he observed instead to sucking up to the religious power elite of the times.

  • Bill

    While Shorter is worrying about fornicatin’ faculty it should be worried about its terrible reputation as an educational institution. Chances are, less sex isn’t going to improve its dreadful quality.

    The Dept. of Education’s excellent “College Navigator” resource reports for Shorter University that its faculty head-count of 85 includes 60 part-time faculty. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a part-time faculty member (AKA “itinerant scholar”), but a school with such a high percentage of part-timers is a dead giveaway: it’s either too cheap to built a stable faculty by paying fair wages, or else nobody in his right mind wants to work for them except folks who are pretty desperate. Either way, it doesn’t say much for the quality of education at Shorter.

    The resource also reports that in 2011-2012, total annual cost for an undergraduate is $30,540 … quite steep for a third-tier school such as this.

    Shorter is a shiny-white school. Undergraduates at Shorter are 71% white, compared to 62% nationwide; 1% asian (6% nationwide); and 3% hispanic/latino (14% nationwide).

    Shorter is hurting for students: it is unselective in its admissions, admitting 66% of all applicants, and of those admitted only 30% actually enroll (in other words, Shorter is applicants’ ‘Plan C’ school). Its overall graduation rate is 51%, which is significantly worse than the national average of 57%.

  • This is just another fallen domino in the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention that began in the late 1970s.

    Those who did not grow up in this culture, as I did, have difficulty imagining that “Southern Baptist” has not always been just a synonym for “fundamentalist.” But there was a time, as late as the ’70s — before Reagan and before there was a meaningful referent for the term “religious right” — when the corporate institution of the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as the Southern Baptist culture more broadly, was conservative — even very conservative, in some cases — but not fundamentalist in the way that we understand that term today.

    When the fundamentalist hardliners started plotting their takeover, in the 1970s, they set their initial sights on the six graduate seminaries, where, at the time — it would surprise many to learn — biblical scholars were practicing historical-literary criticism that would not have been out of place at Harvard.

    But the seminaries — which, as soon as the hardliners could muster fundamentalist majorities on the Boards of these institutions, became the earliest spoils of war — were owned and operated by the national body.

    Southern Baptist colleges — like Shorter — were owned and operated by the various state conventions — Georgia Baptist Convention, Kentucky Baptist Convention, etc. — that were aligned with the national Southern Baptist Convention. And what the fundamentalists were making very clear, by the late 1980s was: Once they had taken down the Southern Baptist Convention and its agencies and institutions, they were coming for the state conventions and theirs.

    The more far-sighted state conventions and colleges took the fundamentalists at their word and began immediately to prepare for the coming onslaught. Specifically, they inoculated themselves by changing their various legal constitutions to make their Boards independent and self-perpetuating, so that they would not be susceptible to a fundamentalist bloodbath.

    So, for example, historically Southern Baptist universities like Wake Forest, Baylor, and Furman, and even smaller liberal arts colleges like Belmont in Nashville, severed their legal ties with the state conventions — or, at the very least, they redrew their Board representation requirements, so that their state conventions would be able to contribute no more than a tiny, symbolic number of directors.

    Looks like Shorter didn’t pay attention to the handwriting on the wall — and now it’s paying the price.

    • Thanks for the background, John.

      My understanding of what happened at Shorter University is that there was a raging political battle, with many people in administration working to cut the school’s religious ties, and others struggling to exert Southern Baptist control over the school. Eventually, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the university’s administration didn’t have the right to go secular, and that doomed the school to become the laughing stock that it is today.

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