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A Bright Future: Shorter University

Rapidly approaching its 150th academic year, Shorter University is moving forward toward an exciting future.

“In August 2022, Shorter will open our 150th year of offering an engaging academic experience,” said University President Dr. Don Dowless. “Degrees have been granted; lives have been changed; and we have the privilege of looking back over that time and celebrating many memories. This significant milestone is also important because it challenges us to look to the future.”

Learning Spaces Transformed

Central to the University’s future-focus is its SUForward Campaign, which is raising support for student scholarships and transforming learning spaces on campus.

The most recent example is Shorter’s General Chemistry Lab, which was renovated this summer. The upgraded lab space features state-of-the-art fume hoods and equipment, hospital-grade floors with University branding, and dry erase walls for instruction. “The renovations resulted in a brand new facility equal to any other facility at any other school,” Dr. Dowless said.

“It’s amazing to see the growth and the changes happening here,” said senior Ecology and Field Biology major and Chemistry minor Chip Williams. “The renovations give us a sense of pride in Shorter University and in the Science Department. The improved space helps us want to come to lab every day.”

The General Chemistry Lab is the fourth science lab Shorter has renovated since 2015. “The investment of donors is allowing us to build a new science building from the inside out while preserving the historic nature of Rome Hall,” Dr. Dowless said.

Another priority of the SUForward Campaign was the renovation of the University’s on-campus theatre, and Shorter celebrated the renovation and renaming of that space in 2019. The renovated space is now the J.W. Tiscornia Studio Theatre and is home to Shorter’s theatre, musical theatre and opera productions.

Athletic Facilities Upgraded

The fall of 2021 also marked the completion of a trio of upgrades to facilities serving Shorter Athletics. Most notable is the installation of new turf at Shorter’s on-campus Ben Brady Field. The facility serves as home field for the men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams as well as the practice facility for the football team.

“This is my fourth year playing soccer at Shorter,” senior Chemistry major Jackson Wheatley said. “The turf now is incredible. When you turn, you can feel the give that helps prevent injuries.”

“The new turf was very exciting for the women’s lacrosse team,” said senior Communication Studies major Cat Bloedow. “We got to see firsthand how it helps us in game. With the new field, it’s able to bounce pass more easily. It just makes the game a lot better to play. Plus, the new design just looks cooler so we’re excited.” That new design features alternating shades of green every five yards, leading into Shorter blue end zones.

The University also completed a renovation of the athletic weight room and installed a new court in the Winthrop-King Centre, which serves as home court for volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball.

A Christ-Centered, Student-Focused Campus

“We are excited because these SUForward projects enhance the student experience both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. We are making progress, and we are changing the face of the campus, and because of that students’ lives are being changed,” Dr. Dowless said.

“Our SUForward Campaign is about serving the students God has entrusted to us. Our motto is Transforming Lives through Jesus Christ. That transformation begins with the knowledge that we are made through the hands of a loving God. Each of our students is important, and we craft an academic experience that brings out their God-given talents so they can go and be a part of God’s work in transforming our world.”

Hawks on Mission

Businesses, churches, nonprofits, and families in Rome and Floyd County saw the impact of this focus through Shorter’s first-ever Hawks on Mission Day held in April 2021. Two Shorter University students had a vision to impact their community and worked with Shorter’s Christian Studies Department to organize a day of service.

The volunteers served at organizations including Open Door Home, Salvation Army, Ruth and Naomi House, Deeper Living Ministries, Unity Christian School, William S. Davies Homeless Shelter, Fellowship Baptist Church, and Sherwood Baptist Church. Some students also engaged in conversations with businesses on Broad Street, offering encouragement and prayer for business owners and employees impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Students commented that one of the most impactful service projects was painting a room for a single parent who attends one of the partner churches; the mom asked for more men to come to her house, so that her son could see some godly men who were willing and excited to serve.

Bloedow said, “Hawks on Mission was a day of sharing and living out the gospel! I wanted to be a part of this day because I believe that we students have a lot to offer this community physically and spiritually. I wanted to help put ‘Transforming Lives through Christ’ into action.”

Focus on the Future

As Shorter University is preparing to celebrate a century and a half of academic excellence, its focus is on the future.

“The 150th year of Shorter University is important,” Dr. Dowless said. “This milestone is important because it challenges us to look to the future. We have been the beneficiaries of people who were able to cast a vision and see that vision come to fruition. And now it is up to us. The next 150 years are significant because the opportunities are unknown. What the world will be is unknown, but we know that our God never changes, and this is His University.”

“We are proud to be this community’s longest-serving college or university, and we look forward to the next 150 years. We invite our community to join us as we move forward toward the future. If we continue to build a strong foundation, that which follows will be glorious.”

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