Initially founded in 1873 as the Cherokee Baptist Female College in Rome, Georgia, the school changed its name to Shorter University in 1877 due to large donations by Alfred and Martha Shorter. In the early 1950s, the school opened their doors to male students. The university has been and still is associated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Shorter University adheres to a strong Christian commitment along with maintaining the highest level of education possible. Part of their mission statement reads,
“Shorter University is a Christ-centered liberal arts university dedicated to academic excellence within the context of a biblical worldview. As a Christian university, Shorter is committed to keeping an emphasis upon a biblically sound, integrated, faith-based education that promotes a zeal for academic, spiritual, and professional growth. The educational process of teaching and learning involves the whole person, and Shorter is committed to the principle that all truth comes from God and finds its fullest expression in the person of Jesus Christ. Shorter University deeply cares about the academic and spiritual development of its students and believes that students should be challenged academically and spiritually to impact culture. By providing an educational process intent on transforming lives through Jesus Christ, Shorter University seeks to glorify God through students equipped for lifelong servant leadership.”
“Our organizational brand and educational philosophy are reflective of and permeated by the timeless truths of Jesus Christ. Shorter University is committed to a broad based liberal arts education, believing it is not only a task, but a calling to seek truth and apply that truth in the marketplace of life. Christ-centered scholarship has its foundation in the biblical command to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Mark 12:30) and must be pursued in every field of study.”
“Our quality education is reflective of our founders’ vision for developing young scholars who will impact the global community as valuable servants of the Lord. As a Christ-centered institution, Shorter affirms its affiliation with and commitment to the Georgia Baptist Convention.”
With so much decadence and sinful lifestyles becoming accepted in America, the school’s administrators desired to preserve strong biblical standards for students and faculty. In October 2011, they implemented the Personal Lifestyle Statement that had to be signed by all university employees including faculty. The statement reads in part,
“I agree to adhere to and support the following principles (on or off the
1. I will be loyal to the mission of Shorter University as a Christ-centered
institution affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
2. I will not engage in the use, sale, possession, or production of illegal
3. I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible,
including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.”
Much to everyone’s surprise, a significant number of faculty refused to sign the Personal Lifestyle Statement. Reports place the number of faculty that refused to sign the statement to be between 50 to 60. Failure to sign the statements means that their contracts are not renewed and they are no longer employed by the university.
A number of people, including those who refused to sign, expected the university to back away from the Personal Lifestyle Statement, but that was not the case. Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, Dr J Robert White stated,
“I do not believe there will be any changes in the ‘lifestyle statement’ due to people who are opposed to it. I think that at any educational institution the faculty and the administration are responsible for following the guidelines set by the board of trustees who provide this whole governance for the university.”
University president Don Dowless defended the statement by saying,
“We have a right to hire only Christians. I think that anybody who adheres to a lifestyle that is outside of what the biblical mandate is and of what the board has passed, including the president, would not be allowed to continue here.”
My hat goes off to Shorter University and their administration for not caving in to the pressure of so many faculty refusing to sign the Personal Lifestyle Statement. Rather than giving in to the world, they are standing their ground for what they believe to be strong biblical standards. Their actions remind me of Romans 12:1-3,
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”