What is Happening at Gordon College?


Earlier this week I visited Gordon College to deliver the 2017 Franz Lecture.  It was a great. albeit short, visit.  Gordon is a great place.  They have an outstanding history faculty and very bright students. I want to thank Steven Alter, Jennifer Hevelone-Harper, David Goss, David Wick, and Hannah Midwinter for making my visit so enjoyable.

One thing that did not come up (and I did not get a chance to pursue it with anyone) during the course of my visit was an April 7 report in The Chronicle of Higher Education that the entire Gordon College Faculty Senate recently resigned their seats in support of a sociology professor who was apparently “denied a promotion because she criticized the college’s opposition to same-sex relationships.”

The Chronicle report drew heavily from reports at The Tartan (Gordon’s student newspaper) and The Boston Globe.

When I was on campus this week there seemed to be no sign of protest among the student body.  Students seemed to be enjoying the beautiful weather by relaxing on the lawn of the college quad and soaking in the New England sun.  The faculty and staff who I met were not talking about this.

Yesterday this entire affair caught the attention of Christianity Today.  Here is a taste of Kate Schellnut’s reporting:

The senate resignations have drawn particular attention amid ongoing scrutiny over Gordon’s LGBT policies. Lindsay stirred controversy among the college’s Massachusetts neighbors and accrediting association when he joined a 2014 letter requesting that the Obama administration provide religious exemptions for federal funding recipients that consider sexual orientation in hiring.

Gordon later conducted a “period of discernment” on its pastoral response to LGBT issues, which concluded with the unanimous reaffirmation of its sexuality standards.

In March, a sociology professor filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, claiming that after receiving a recommendation from the faculty senate, she was denied a promotion due to her LGBT advocacy. Gordon told the college newspaper that “the professor’s application for promotion was evaluated solely on its merits and was not influenced by any other matters.”

In last week’s meeting, George, the former chair, “affirmed the authority and decision-making role of the administration, but said she felt the senators could not reconcile divergent views on the process and could no longer be effective in their roles,” Sweeney said. “Their statement did not reference any specific decision or faculty member.”

Read the entire article here.

If another article in The Tartan is correct, it appears that this recent controversy is representative of some larger issues about the mission and identity of Gordon College.