Big Trouble at Little Shimer: What’s happening to Chicago’s Great Books college?

(Sam Feldman)

(Sam Feldman)

Last Sunday afternoon, most of Shimer College crowded into a small room to discuss the future of their school. The Assembly–a democratic body in which all students, faculty, staff, and trustees have equal votes–has traditionally been the moral authority of the college, while legal authority rests with the Board of Trustees. In last Sunday’s special session, those two authorities clashed as the Assembly voted on resolutions condemning the Board’s recent actions and the college’s president.

The current conflict that threatens to rip Shimer apart is only the latest tribulation in the history of the tiny school, which bills itself as “Chicago’s Great Books College” and has an enrollment of a little over 100 students. Founded in 1853 in bucolic Mount Carroll in western Illinois, the college faced mounting debts and declining enrollment in the 1970s. In 1978 the Board of Trustees voted to shut down the school, but the faculty and students wouldn’t give up. They moved into a Victorian mansion in Waukegan at the mayor’s invitation and remained there for almost 30 years with a communal government centered around the Assembly. In 2006, the college moved again to its present location in a few buildings on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus in the hope of attracting more students. Until recently it remained tucked away there, largely unnoticed by the outside world.

But then Thomas Lindsay came along. The school’s new president was inaugurated last year and quickly stirred up opposition. “This thing really got going when President Lindsay fired the director of admissions without any internal consultation whatsoever,” says Professor Albert Fernandez, who also serves as a trustee and the Speaker of the Assembly. Lindsay then chose a replacement whom a search committee had twice rejected. In a meeting on November 15, the Assembly passed several resolutions calling on Lindsay and the Board to respect Shimer’s tradition of shared governance. In response, trustee Patrick Parker ’54 wrote a letter to the Assembly informing them that financial donors like himself “expect, in return for our support, that the rest of the community will do its job, i.e. for the teachers to teach, the students to learn, and the managers to manage.”

Parker’s letter was accompanied by very similar ones from five other trustees, all of whom had several things in common. All had been appointed to the Board very recently. All had no previous ties to Shimer. All attacked the school’s history of communal democracy. And almost all were prominent political conservatives, a point that articles in the Tribune and Chicago Reader have fixed on.

The letters caused an uproar among Assembly members, and tensions only rose over the following months. The next battle would be joined over the school’s mission statement, which needed to be reviewed as part of the reaccreditation process. An online petition in support of the current mission statement, posted in December, received 144 signatures–almost one and a half times the size of the student body–but Lindsay made it clear that he wanted a new statement. On February 7, the Assembly voted to retain the current statement. Two days later, the faculty sat down for a meeting with Lindsay in which he informed them that he would be meeting with faculty members individually “to ascertain their commitment to the new mission statement,” according to Professor and Dean of Students Stuart Patterson in an email interview. “To a person, the Faculty felt strongly that President Lindsay was indicating a linkage between commitment to his mission statement and employment at Shimer.”

The faculty’s response was a unanimous letter in support of the current mission statement that was read at the Board meeting on February 19 and 20, but to no effect. The vote, which was conducted by secret ballot for the first time Fernandez can remember, was 18 to 16 in favor of the new mission statement.

The resolution passed by the Assembly last Sunday took issue with the questionable process by which the Board had approved Lindsay’s mission statement. The day before the Board vote, Parker had informed the trustees of an agreement signed three years before with a charitable foundation that he claimed required the school to adopt a new mission statement before the next Board meeting. When the Board’s Executive Committee indicated its unanimous disapproval of the new statement, Lindsay had urged them to resign. In light of all this, the Assembly declared by an almost unanimous vote that it didn’t recognize the “legitimacy or authority” of the new mission statement.

The other scheduled resolution, that the Assembly “has no confidence in the ability of President Thomas Lindsay to lead Shimer College,” was tabled indefinitely after long and heated debate. “This is a very serious vote. It could well spell the death of the school,” said Patterson. “If that’s the will of the Assembly, then it’s the will of the Assembly to strike out on their own as a new college.” Owen Brugh ‘06, who attended the meeting, said that even considering the resolution sent a message to “the hardline Board members.” “I don’t think that they believe that this community is capable of this type of action,” he says. “Are you really sure we’re not capable of that?”

19 comments for “Big Trouble at Little Shimer: What’s happening to Chicago’s Great Books college?

  1. Robert Hathaway
    March 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Thomas Lindsay has been a disaster for Shimer College. Fundraising has plummeted, admissions had declined dramatically, morale is terrible. Lindsay has filled the Board of Directors with personal cronies who know nothing about Shimer and who apparently desire to turn the College into a right-wing cult. The students and faculty refuse to accept this, and Lindsay and his cronies are threatening to fire the faculty and terminate financial aid for students who do not accept his twisted vision. Shimer is a wonderful college–one of the best in the country–and it is truly sad to see a megalomaniac like Lindsay and his minions try to destroy such a beautiful enterprise. Fight back, Shimer College!!! You can do it!!

  2. Shimer 98
    March 4, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    I don’t think Lindsay’s minions on the board have any idea the kind of resistance they are going to face if this goes forward. The students, staff and faculty of this extraordinary, unique institution have not bled and wept and sacrificed to keep this school afloat for so long, just to let a bunch of well-funded ideologues waltz in and take it over.

  3. Carol Haney
    March 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    My sad guess is that Shimer College as we knew it will disappear in very short order. A very apt analogy is the takeover of the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Bridgeport) by the Unification Church of Sun Moon (commonly known as the Moonies). A friend of mine was teaching in the Law School there (the Law School incidentally left UofB and joined another university to the dismay of the Moonies) and saw it all unfold, and the stories are eerily similar.

    My guess is that within two years the current body of professors will all be replaced by those who fit within a neo-conservative ideology, and that this was planned and executed for some years by that same group. The $700K given by an “anonymous” donor was not benevolent or altruistic. Instead, that organization was wanting two things: the Shimer College’s reputation within the “great books” circles to hang its neo-con curriculum on, and more importantly, Shimer’s accreditation. The $700K purchased both, and that was a great deal for the donor. Who could have started a University for under $1M? Shame on that group of closed-minded, scheming old farts.

  4. Oliver Steven
    March 5, 2010 at 12:18 am

    The media, has taken up this story solely because of what is perceived to be some right-wing conspiracy amongst the board of trustees. The reporting has been predictably one-sided.

    What is obvious to those truly in-the-know regarding the situation, is that the faculty and students are acting like spoiled little children. Little children can’t govern themselves, that is why a Board exists. It sounds to me as though the faculty don’t value their jobs very much–exhibiting insubordination is not a very good way to ingratiate your superiors.

    Shimer will live on, but not before the campus is cleansed of those who cannot abide by the leadership. There is no right-wing conspiracy, only trustees who believe in the college and are wise enough to know that this uprising is futile and misguided. Activists are people who don’t have enough to do. Soon there will be faculty at Shimer who make certain students have enough to do!

  5. Friend of Shimer College
    March 5, 2010 at 12:19 am

    This remarkable college, a rare institution where students, faculty, staff and trustees traditionally practice a direct democracy in its purest form, inspired by the ancient Greek Polis, now finds itself in an all out fight for survival. It is this tradition of self-governance, in which the governing Assembly is made up of the entire community, which is under attack. Ironically, the enemy is within and may prove extremely difficult to dislodge.

    Being a tiny college presents continuing financial challenges, and several years ago Shimer, in effort to raise funds, unwittingly struck a Faustian bargain with an “anonymous” donor. This donor, in exchange for a generous sum of money, required certain changes in the governance of the college, granting ultimate authority to the trustees. Since then, this anonymous donor has populated the Board with a new president, a slew of new trustees (all unfamiliar with the college) sufficient to gain a voting majority, and has begun the process of replacing college staff with people of his choosing. With a new mission statement that is diametrically opposed to Shimer traditions, and efforts to bring into the faculty certain individuals whose stated plans are to start a new college, it has become painfully obvious that Shimer is in the midst of a hostile takeover by a group that wants the college’s structure and accreditation for its own purposes. Apparently they thought it would be easier to take over a small, vulnerable college than to start one up from scratch.

    It is also ironic that this group, through its spokesman, Thomas Lindsay, professes to want to instill a new curriculum founded on the U.S. constitution and democratic principles. This seems the height of hypocrisy, given the nefarious plot they’ve hatched to undermine a community that by tradition practices democracy in its purest form. Shimer College is entirely unique in that its students learn first hand the pains, frustrations, hard work, responsibilities, and ultimately rewards, of practicing direct democracy on a daily basis. This, in combination with a graduate-level curriculum of the most challenging original texts, makes these students uniquely prepared to take on just about anything after graduation.

    Shimer College is one of the great, if little known, treasures of American academia. Let’s hope it finds a way to withstand this attack. Let this also be a cautionary tale for those other small, struggling schools out there that might be tempted by the Faustian “generosity” of anonymous donors!

  6. Michael Weinman
    March 5, 2010 at 1:43 am

    I am not sure what exactly warrants one as being “truly in-the-know” with respect to what is transpiring at Shimer, but I would like to ask Mr. Steven to immerse himself a bit more in the history of this conflict before making dismissive remarks about any party to the debate. The students and faculty of Shimer College have been the only thing keeping the College afloat at all for 35 years; whenever they have given the reins to one or another sort of “professional managers,” their Herculean efforts have been sabotaged. Perhaps the conclusion to be drawn, then, should it be the case that they are child-like, is that children should be running all of our institutions.

    Michael Weinman, Shimer Class of 1998

  7. Shimer Alumnus
    March 5, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    I think this capture of Shimer by ideologues has been in the works for years. Unfortunately, unless they’ve done something illegal, it appears that they can get away with it. I’m dubious that the case for “mismanagement” has any efficacy. I think Lindsay has been doing just what he was hired to do, and neither he nor the people who hired him care about what current students, faculty, or alumni think. They’re aiming for a whole new constituency. Guess who that might be.

    Unfortunately, the (I think true) argument that rightwing ideologues are at work here is vulnerable to the counter-argument that those resisting the takeover are just a bunch of liberals (perish the thought) and lefties. Personally, I would feel just as bad if a bunch of leftwing ideologues were capturing the school. The Shimer tradition of critical thinking and dialog is inherently opposed to the imposition of any ideology.

  8. Cassandra Kaczocha
    March 6, 2010 at 9:34 am

    As both an alum and the child of alums who helped to pack up the Mt. Carroll campus in the midst of a driving blizzard I am truly sad to hear that the current administration or friends of the administration views dialogue as “insubordination” or the acts of “spoiled children”. My parents and I all attended Shimer because of our appreciation of dialogue and the idea of learning by sharing our views and having the opportunity to absorb the views of others. I recently donated a larger than typical sum to the college and agreed to speak this month about the value of a Shimer education. I am one alumnus who is questioning my continued support of the school. Comments like those of Mr. Steven further my internal dialogue on the topic.

  9. Tim Kaczocha
    March 6, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Unfortunately this is simply a hostile takeover of a business by those that have the funds to make it happen. It’s a reality of the world we live in and an excellent life/business lesson for the students. The current faculty and students are expendable. The board believes their funding will prevail and they will recruit the faculty and students per their plan. The only option I see for the current faculty and students is to find donors who will support them in starting a new college. Considering the current economy, the history of Shimer in fund raising and the fact that American’s are loathe to jump on new causes – especially one of no magnitude, I will be preparing myself to mourn the passing of the Shimer College that I knew.

  10. Chris McGlynn co97
    March 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    The issue of the left-ness or right-ness of the board or community is moot. The new board members are problematic because most of them or their organizations have received substantial sums of money from the school’s “anonymous” donor. They are also blocking the board from bringing on new, non-neoconservative members, who would bring much appreciated funding to the College.
    This conservative block are ideologically aligned against the spirit and ethos of the college which endangers the accreditation of the school. Several of them have even expressed open contempt for Shimer and its ideals.
    Additionally, Mr. Lindsay, by his own admission, has barely attended a handful of classes and does not understand, or apparently care about, the value and uniqueness of the Shimer educational experience.
    Shimer has always had lefties and righties who understand and respect dialogue and the mission of the school. Mr. Lindsay and the new board members do not and because of this fact they will either destroy the College or leave.

  11. David Koukal
    March 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I am a 1990 Waukegan alumnus who discovered Shimer College by complete happenstance. Shimer is where I met one of my best friends (Bill Paterson ’89) and my wife of eighteen years (Sharon Vlahovich ’89). My chance encounter with the College also led me to go on to graduate school, and I have been a teacher of philosophy for almost twenty years. It is neither an overstatement nor a cliché to say that Shimer changed and immeasurably enriched my life.

    I presently teach at the University of Detroit Mercy, where I also direct the honors program. Over the ten years I have been at Detroit, I have been very active on campus, serving on several committees, including a union negotiating committee, a college mission statement committee, as well as a core revision committee and the faculty assembly.

    Despite these qualifications, and the thousands of dollars my wife and I have donated to Shimer over the years, I am one of the six nominees to the board of trustees whose nominations were tabled in January 2010. Because recent events at the College have convinced me that my nomination has virtually no hope of coming before the full board for a vote any time in the near future, I want to speak frankly and openly about the situation in which the College currently finds itself.

    I once spoke with Mr. Lindsay on the phone, not long after he assumed the presidency of the College. I can report that we spoke for 20-30 minutes, and that I found him to be collegial, personable and reasonable. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, and after hanging up, I felt reassured that the College was in good hands. Given this conversation, I cannot square the president’s recent actions with the person I spoke with on the phone some while back. But as Aristotle intimates, it is more prudent to judge someone by their actions than by their words.

    Putting aside for the moment the ideology with which the president and his supporters seem to want to align the College, let me focus on the genesis of the new mission statement and the immediate aftermath of its adoption by a narrow majority vote of the board of trustees.

    The revision or replacement of a mission statement is a serious undertaking, no matter the educational institution. Typically, this is given over to a task force or self-study committee populated by the major stakeholders across the institution–faculty, students, administrators, alumni, trustees and staff–who collectively begin a deliberative process that is fraught with difficulty because it goes to refining or re-defining the very identity of the institution. It is not unusual for this process to take a year or more, especially in older, established schools. This task must be undertaken with great care, because the mission serves to unify the institution. In short, if there is a situation within academia where one wants to foster as much consensus as is humanly possible, this is it.

    Unfortunately, this did not at happen at Shimer. The president offered a series of “guideposts” for revising the mission in October 2009, but did not offer his own draft of the mission until February 2010. Even then, he submitted this draft not to the relevant stakeholders but only to the board of trustees, who–three months ahead of schedule, according to the timetable Lindsay set down in his own “Overview of the Strategic Planning Process”–voted to adopt this draft by a narrow vote of 18-16, despite the manifest opposition of the vast majority of the College’s stakeholders.

    Such unilateral re-definitions of a school’s mission statement simply do not happen in academia. To put it bluntly, in this instance the president failed to subscribe to standard academic good practice. Instead of engaging in a good faith dialogue with all of the College’s constituencies that would have allowed him to better acquaint himself with the community he is charged with leading, he relied solely on his narrow support among the trustees to foist his mission on the College, thereby passing up an opportunity to unify the community behind his vision for the College. Some might consider the president’s action an act of strength, but to my mind it testifies to his weakness as a leader, and suggests that he wants to establish a monopoly in the marketplace of ideas that is Shimer College.

    Then, compounding his error in judgment, apparently the president intimated that if individual faculty did not confirm their allegiance to his new mission statement, they could seek employment elsewhere.

    Set aside, for the moment, the glaring contradiction between this infringement on academic freedom and the following sentence from the president’s own mission statement: “The Shimer community recognizes that the intellectual liberty it pursues depends on its being situated in a system of political liberty.” Set aside how offensive a loyalty oath is to freedom of conscience. Set aside the conceit of a college president who mistakes himself for the college. Focus instead on the breathtaking audacity it must take to question the loyalty of these faculty–these faculty–who have achieved so much more than what most college faculty achieve in their careers. Focus on the great personal and professional sacrifices these faculty have made to shepherd the College through countless crises over a period of decades. Focus on what these faculty have given up in order to sustain an ideal exceedingly rare in higher education. These are truly noble people. To threaten them with the loss of their calling is the deepest cut, and profoundly indecent.

    These actions have created a great deal of disharmony within the College, but on another level, they have had a unifying effect–they have unified opposition to the president’s leadership. The faculty, courageously and unanimously, rejected the president’s loyalty oath. The Assembly has overwhelmingly rejected the president’s mission statement, and demanded that the board vote on the tabled nominations to that body. I have special praise for the Shimer student body: you have been magnificent, and conducted yourselves with integrity, dignity, reason and–all the more remarkable under the circumstances–good humor. You have exemplified the democratic responsibilities that the president only talks about in his mission statement. Chief among these responsibilities is assuming a state of perpetual vigilance over those in power, in order to assure that this power is not abused. I admire you deeply, and I pray that your vigilance doesn’t waver.

    Viewing this alarming situation from a distance, I wouldn’t dare second-guess the strategies the Assembly and faculty have adopted in resisting the president’s abuse of power, as they are closer to the conflict. So what I offer here should be construed only as another perspective on this situation, as possible food for thought.

    To the extent that Shimer has embraced his pedagogical method for decades, it would perhaps be permissible to say that Socrates is the de facto patron saint of the College. And throughout the present conflict, the larger Shimer community has repeatedly manifested the Socratic devotion to rational discourse, though, it seems to me, the same cannot be said of the president and his allies on the board. This small faction has made it clear it has no use for the Assembly, and routinely ignores its resolutions. This begs the question of whether there is a duty to dialogue with the willfully deaf. We may valorize Socrates’ way of life, but remember how it ended. In my eyes it would be no consolation at all if the College was to martyr itself in a similar fashion.

    It seems to me that Thucydides’ account of the Melian dialogue has something useful to contribute here. On this account, the neutral Melians offered every good faith argument to avoid war with the Athenians, only to be forced, in the end, to fight for their independence. After a long siege the Athenians prevailed. They then executed every adult Melian man, sold every Melian woman and child into slavery, and colonized the depopulated island.

    This episode is instructive because it more starkly portrays the confrontation between reason and naked power. More specifically, I take the Melians to represent the discursive Shimer community, and the ruthless Athenians to represent the president and his allies. Is this comparison born of overwrought hyperbole? I would remind the reader of the president’s threat toward the College’s faculty. What is this but an attempt to depopulate the College of a significant source of opposition? Once the faculty are gone, I suspect that many if not most current Shimer students would understandably continue their education elsewhere, in schools that actually respect freedom of inquiry, leaving the College to be “colonized” as the president and his allies see fit. But I think the main lesson to be drawn from the actions of the Melians is that once dialogue failed, they fought.

    Let me be quick to add that I understand that dialogue is a form of opposition. But its efficacy is negated if one’s opponents reject reasoned discourse as a means of settling a conflict. Where dialogue fails, other forms of resistance must be adopted. Here the playbook is The Prince, not Plato’s dialogues, and despite his nods toward liberty and virtue, the president’s leadership style seems to owe far more to Machiavelli than to Aristotle.

    The Prince is devoted to the pursuit of power, not wisdom. Chapter 18 is especially noteworthy, where Machiavelli praises the ruler who knows how to employ cunning to confuse and disorient and overcome those who place store in integrity. Here Machiavelli stresses the importance of being a “clever counterfeit and hypocrite” who only needs to appear to have the qualities of reliability, sympathy and honesty. But most important to my present point, Machiavelli plainly states that there are two ways to fight: by the rules, like a man, or no holds barred, like an animal. In this connection, he says that a ruler must know how to be both a man and an animal, but even more importantly, to know when to act like a man and when like an animal.

    It is growing increasingly clear to me that the president and his allies are not fighting by the rules–at least not by the principles of shared governance embraced by the rest of academia, and certainly not by the rules that have governed the College for the past forty-some years. Can there be any doubt, after the threat to our faculty, that the president and his allies are fighting like animals? Can there be any doubt that they are antagonistic toward the College’s traditions and ethos? And can there by any doubt, after our faculty have been menaced with loss of livelihood, that unless we too start fighting like animals, the College will be savaged and mauled beyond recognition?

    About the president’s mission statement I will only say that any move to privilege some texts over others is contrary to Shimer’s long pedagogical tradition, and flirts with the establishment of an orthodoxy. For quite a long time now, Shimer’s mission has been about the pursuit of wisdom in the broadest sense. This pursuit cannot be bounded by any dogma; it must be allowed to wander freely. In the article that recently appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Shimer was described as “fiercely independent.” If we understand this to denote intellectual independence, then I think this is a quality worth preserving because it fosters an education (to paraphrase Plato) that begins and is sustained in wonder. This wonder nurtures a healthy questioning of the endoxic that allows for the emergence of truly independent and liberated thinkers.

    By way of contrast, orthodoxy, according to Orwell, is “the absence of thought . . . it is unconsciousness.” The orthodox do not to need to think because they think they already have the truth, and Orwell’s 1984 vividly illustrates the terror that can result from those who have sworn blind allegiance to a dogma. History is awash with cases of cruelty and absurdity in the service of a dogma or orthodoxy–the mutual slaughter of Catholics and Protestants during the Thirty Years War, the denial of heliocentrism by the Church hierarchy, the Holocaust, the imposition of historical materialism onto Soviet science, the killing fields of Pol Pot–the list is endless. Behind every indecency is a dogma waiting to be exposed by truly liberated minds, including the indecency of a college president who threatens his faculty over a matter of conscience, which by itself disqualifies Mr. Lindsay from holding the presidency of Shimer College, or that of any other institution of higher learning for that matter. Contra totus dogmata–against all dogmas–and against all dogmatists!

    In the end, I think the main question we have to confront is this: are we willing to fight like animals to save this school? How far are we willing to go to save Shimer College? I feel sure we have enough fertile and devoted minds to take up the whys and hows of these questions, but I think we must move quickly because time is not on our side.

    I will help in any way I can.

    Most Sincerely,
    David Koukal

    —————————-
    D. R. Koukal
    Associate Professor of Philosophy
    Director, The Honors Program at UDM
    University of Detroit Mercy
    4001 W. McNichols Road
    Detroit, MI 48221-3038
    —————————-
    phone: 313.993.1138 | koukaldr@udmercy.edu
    personal web: http://koukaldr.faculty.udmercy.edu
    honors web: http://www.udmercy.edu/honors
    —————————-
    “A very popular error: having the courage of one’s convictions; rather, it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one’s convictions!!!” – Nietzsche

  12. Friend of Shimer College
    March 14, 2010 at 1:58 am

    With all due respect to Professor Koukal, whose sentiments I agree with, I do not think that “fighting like animals” is what is called for here. Rather, I think the Shimer community needs to fight like “Philadelphia lawyers,” by which I mean they need a team of real Philadelphia lawyers, the sharpest legal minds around, to take the proper actions on behalf of the college and its constituencies.

    As I see it, these constituencies form a class of stakeholders consisting of the faculty, staff, students and their parents, sympathetic trustees and alumni. The majority of these stakeholders have a very real financial interest – as well as philosophical interest – in the college that is threatened by the actions of the president. My guess is that Tom Lindsay et al will swing into action with their “takeover” in June, as soon as the faculty and students have left campus for the summer. Therefore, time is of the essence, and the need for “Philadelphia lawyers” is NOW!

    Nasty as a class action lawsuit against the board would be, it might threaten the college’s accreditation, and that threat alone might be sufficient to make the Lindsay Gang back off or, preferably, pack up its bags and go elsewhere. I cannot state strongly enough the need for the college bring on the big battalions in seeking the sharpest possible legal counsel — NOT someone’s Cousin Vinny, if you know what I mean! This is where sympathetic trustees and alumni must pull out all the stops and find the appropriate counsel now.

  13. Lucia
    March 17, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    I’m just a high school Junior looking for a place to go that’s a bit more intellectually stimulating. For a time, after looking into Shimer, I was enthralled with the possibility of continuing my studies there as it seemed to jive with everything I’ve wanted in education since the 9th grade.

    This is simply saddening.

    I’m reminded of a time while I was taking classes at a local community college when a new president (the previous president having been removed for somewhat questionable reasons) took control. She began by firing several deans and administrators and replacing them with newly appointed department heads. Well-practiced politics, but I wasn’t sure whether to call the actions admirable. Indeed, her actions seem entirely harmless by comparison.

    It’s my hope that this will be resolved by the time I’m ready to move on in my education and that I won’t have to look elsewhere.

  14. Dawn
    April 3, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I’m the parent of a high school student who is starting the college application process. When I began reading about Shimer College, my thought was “Eureka!”

    I have to say, I am so impressed with the thoughts posted here by those associated with Shimer College – it only reinforces my feeling that the school promotes high quality analytical thinking.

    However, if this “shift” continues, the school will not be the place for my child. If the faculty do create a new school, I would very seriously consider following them with my child to their new destination.

  15. Connie Eichenlaub
    April 6, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Shade(s) of Leo Strauss at St. John’s Annapolis where he taught for the final 4 years of his life (1969-73). The neo-conservatives are apparently determined to dominate the culture because that is the nature of their beast.

    http://olincenter.uchicago.edu/straussconference.htm

    http://books.google.com/books?id=0AUpAMhf8OAC&pg=PA31&lpg=PA31&dq=Leo+Strauss+St.+Johns+College&source=bl&ots=EbLGvMBK5F&sig=03sTqc2OKpZ0ACsPpYM96JewGF4&hl=en&ei=v9e7S7y4HIvOsgPY9KCSBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBgQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

  16. Janine, Oberlin Grad
    April 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    My high school Sophomore daughter just received marketing information about Shimer “The Great Books College of Chicago” that had her very excited. Reading about its recent problems, we will look elsewhere.

  17. Barbara Lindley
    April 28, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    My sentiments are with those who thought they had found it all in a school. I am from Salt lake City, Utah and have been searching for a school that would fit my educational goals and needs. I too received info in the mail from Shimer. I promptly went to the website and fell in love. I have been beaming all day up until now…I am at a loss for words. I guess I need to keep searching.

  18. Barbara Lindley
    April 28, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Oh snap!!!!

    I found this on the Shimer Alumni Facebook page 🙂

    April 20, 2010:

    Shimer College, the Great Books College of Chicago, has announced that its 13th president, Thomas K.
    Lindsay, will be stepping down effective immediately. Long-time trustee Edward Noonan, chairman of
    Chicago Associates Planners & Architects, has been named interim president until the college undertakes
    a search for a new president.

    (Thanks for the typescription Elizabeth Van Wie Davis.:- )

    April 18, 2010:

    “Whereas the Presidency of Thomas Lindsay has imperiled the very existence of the College, the Assembly declares that it has no confidence in the ability of President Lindsay to lead Shimer College.”

    ” The Shimer Alumni Association, acting through its Board, calls for the resignation of Thomas Lindsay as President of Shimer.”

    Announcement circulated on campus Wednesday according to Facebook sources:

    Whereas Thomas Lindsay’s unilateral approach to the management of Shimer College has sapped morale and created a climate of fear and mistrust that now pervades the College;

    Whereas he has consistently shown a lack of understanding of and respect for Shimer College’s history, traditions, culture, identity, and academic mission;

    Whereas he has increasingly acted in opposition to structures of the College, including committees and procedures, written policies, and handbooks;

    Whereas his inability or unwillingness to communicate and work with Shimer College’s constituencies is demonstrated by his making major decisions and attempting major changes in the face of overwhelming opposition;

    And whereas he has given no credible indication that he will desist from the conduct described or cease attempting to transform the College according to his own plans and without broad support;

    The Faculty declares that Thomas Lindsay has done grave harm to Shimer College and imperils its very existence; and, therefore,

    The Faculty resolves that it has no confidence in Thomas Lindsay as President of Shimer College.

  19. Thomas Gilliam
    May 25, 2010 at 1:11 am

    The very best wishes to all of you at Shimer and your remarkable school!

Comments are closed.