A Tale of Two Colleges
Mercer University and Shorter University represent opposite trajectories on the landscape of American education.
Shorter University and Mercer University are institutions of higher education in Georgia, and both have been historically related to the Georgia Baptist Convention — the state’s largest Baptist group. Both schools have been in the news in recent days over the issue of homosexuality. Seen together, the actions taken by the schools point backwards to critical decisions made in the past, forward to issues that will be faced by every college, and directly to the present, where the future is taking shape before our eyes.
At the end of October, the trustees of Shorter University, located in Rome, Georgia, adopted a series of statements intended to protect the Christian commitments of the university. Faculty are to operate within the guidelines, which include both articles of faith and a “personal lifestyle statement” that includes an affirmation that the Bible forbids “premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.” Shorter President Donald Dowless said that the statements represent “a continuing affirmation of our Christ-centered mission.”
Within days of that decision, the administration of Mercer University, located in Macon, Georgia, announced that it was changing its personnel policies to allow for coverage of domestic partnerships involving homosexual employees. Mercer President Bill Underwood said that the new policy “brings Mercer into line with other leading private universities in our region, including Emory, Duke, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Tulane, Furman, Rollins, Elon, and Stetson.”