ATLANTA (BP)–Out of concern for preserving the relationship between Shorter College and the Georgia Baptist Convention, the executive committee of Shorter’s board of trustees met Jan. 16 and rescinded earlier action it had taken to hand over control of the college to a newly-created Shorter College Foundation. As reported in the The Christian Index convention newsjournal, the earlier action was first reported to the convention’s administration committee on Jan. 8. That announcement was met with great concern by convention officials who immediately withdrew Cooperative Program funding for the school.
A meeting was held Jan. 22 at the Baptist Center in Atlanta between Shorter trustees and members of the GBC administration committee. Both groups aired their concerns and apparently agreed to continue discussions in order to arrive at an agreeable consensus.
This latest action by the Shorter trustees seemingly returns the relationship between the college and convention back to status quo. Shorter officials still have issues related to trustee selection that they wish addressed and the Convention leadership has agreed to establish an ad hoc committee with members from both groups to study the selection process.
Convention officials felt the trustees’ earlier action to create a separate Foundation to manage and control the assets and operations of Shorter College was an effort to free the college from convention ownership, control and influence. The directors of the new foundation would have been a self-perpetuating board, independent of convention approval.
College officials maintained that they had no intention of distancing the college from the convention but were simply acting out of a need to meet standards prescribed by the accrediting agency Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It is clear, also, that the trustees want a greater voice in recommending potential new trustees who are elected by the Georgia Baptist Convention.
The following statement was issued jointly by the GBC administration committee and Shorter College trustees: “The Georgia Baptist Convention and Shorter College are announcing (Jan. 22) that they have reached agreement related to shared concerns about their relationship. In a four-hour joint meeting of the Shorter College Board of Trustees and President Ed L. Schrader and the Georgia Baptist Convention Administration Committee and Executive Director J. Robert White, both groups freely aired and discussed issues and concerns.
“One issue concerning the College related to the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) criteria that the governing board must have a process in place to provide for the removal of a trustee for cause and through due process. In response to this concern the Georgia Baptist Convention Administration Committee voted prior to the meeting to supply the necessary wording in the form of a statement to be included in the College’s bylaws. The statement provided by the Administration Committee was acceptable to the Board of Trustees.
“The Administration Committee and the Board of Trustees agreed to establish an ad hoc committee with members from both groups to study the trustee selection process. While the Administration Committee rejected any idea that would sacrifice the autonomy of the Committee on Nominations as provided through the Constitution of the Georgia Baptist Convention, they did express openness to have discussions early in every calendar year with the President of the College to review criteria for trustees as viewed by the Convention and the College. This criteria would be used to surface names of potential trustee candidates who would be able to meet the needs of the College. The ad hoc committee will study this process in the near future.
“Dr. White assured the Board of Trustees that the Convention will gladly work with the College to assist them in their upcoming SACS peer review.
“The January 22 meeting was called out of a need for open discussion related to an action by the Board of Trustees that removed the authority from the Board elected by the Convention and placed the assets and control of the College in a new board. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees rescinded this action on January 16 out of concern for preserving the relationship with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
“It is believed that the Georgia Baptist Convention and Shorter College will be able to enjoy their continued relationship in a strengthened understanding of each other’s concerns.”