The Chronicle for Higher Education has posted a story looking into how colleges with “Christian affiliations” are coping with a generation of students seemingly less interested in attending a four-year institution with ties to organized religion.
Among the schools mentioned are Shorter University as well as two other colleges in Georgia operated with the assistance of the Georgia Baptist Convention, Brewton-Parker College and Truett McConnell University.
In addition to changing cultural trends, the report also takes a hard look at Shorter’s specific practices and the impact they have had. It recounts the court battle for control of Shorter and the subsequent hiring of Donald Dowless to lead the institution starting almost seven years ago. It highlights the “lifestyle statement” Dowless brought with him and what has happened since. It concludes:
- “The ensuing conflict between Mr. Dowless and employees who disagreed with him resulted in the departure of 83 faculty and staff members. Thirty-five of the departing faculty members had worked full-time. Enrollment plummeted by more than 200 students in the fall of 2012.”
- From 2005 to 2015, Shorter’s traditional undergraduate enrollment fell by more than 45 percent, from 2,454 to 1,345.
- Brewton-Parker’s enrollment also dropped by about 45 percent, from 1,139 to 616, over the same decade.
- Truett McConnell’s enrollment, over the past 10 years, has grown by 113 percent, from 353 to 752, suggesting that some students still want a conservative Christian education.
We asked Shorter for a comment on the Chronicle report for this story. University officials did not respond; Shorter is closed for the Christmas break.