“I just choose to serve a God that welcomes all,” said the assistant professor of theater and a set designer.
While the total impact of Shorter’s lifestyle statement may not be known until faculty receive their contracts for the 2012-2013 school year, many have already resigned.
The lifestyle statement says employees must find premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality “unacceptable.” Employees of the university are also forbidden to drink alcohol in public.
Last Monday, Vanice Roberts, dean of the School of Nursing, announced her resignation to help start a four-year nursing program at Berry.
During an interview Roberts said, “It’s hard to be a nurse and make strong statements about people’s lifestyles. I don’t want to be in a situation to be in judgment of someone else.”
Three other employees of the university’s nursing school have also resigned, Roberts said.
In his letter, Bristow said the lifestyle statement will have far-reaching effects.
“I also believe by limiting the faculty’s beliefs, the student enrollment will be greatly affected; thus negating Christ’s purpose for coming to be among us,” he said.
Other faculty members contacted indicated they are looking or are leaving but didn’t want to say anything publicly until they had told university officials.
The exodus appears to mirror the results of an anonymous survey completed by a group called the Committee for Integrity. Of the 61 faculty members who responded to the poll, only 12 percent indicated they planned to stay at Shorter.
But those numbers may be under-reported because no surveys were sent to staff members, said former Shorter staff member Carol Atkins in a letter to the Rome News-Tribune. She resigned her job last month.
“I can assure you that staff members at Shorter University are equally concerned for their job security as many face the difficult decision to sign the Personal Lifestyle Statement in order to keep their job or to walk away from the dangerous waters on which the Georgia Baptist Convention, Dr. Nelson Price and Dr. Don Dowless are now treading,” Atkins wrote.
As of Saturday, 33 faculty and staff positions were open at Shorter, according to the university’s website. Twelve adjunct positions were also open. The list did not include Roberts’ or Bristow’s jobs.
In a statement released last week, Shorter President Don Dowless said he was aware some faculty members were not happy.
“Change is hard, and while some disagree with the university’s direction, we’ve also experienced an influx of renewed support from students, faculty, staff and alumni alike,” Dowless said.