Shorter University in Rome has hired 51 new full-time faculty members. It comes after a wave of teachers and staff left the school rather than sign a Christian “Faith and Lifestyle” statement.

Critics say the turnover will hurt students’ education.

The personal lifestyle statement says employees must find premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality unacceptable. Earlier this year, it became a requirement for employment at the school.

School officials say some faculty and staff have voluntarily resigned, but they have not released a total headcount.

Of the 51 new hires, 23 have doctorate degrees.

Retired communications professor Betty Zane Morris, who left Shorter before the controversy, is concerned that fewer than half of the new faculty have doctorates.

She says, “There are teachers who have little teaching experience who become fine teachers. But to saturate a campus with people like that, without the other more experienced people to back them up, does make you question what kind of education the students may be getting.”

Morris says 43 percent of the faculty left, including 4 of 7 deans.

Opponents of the statement also say school officials were restricting their curriculum to Christian ideas like creationism over evolution.

Morris says interference in the classroom was another reason for the faculty exodus.

She says “Academic freedom is being threatened. And people are being told what they must teach and what they can’t do. And when you get to that in a college program, I think you’re treading very dangerous waters.”

The school’s president, Don Dowless says the goal is to educate students within quote “authentic Christian context. "

Tags: Shorter University, personal lifestyle statement, Betty Zane Morris, University President Don Dowless