Friday, November 11, 2005

Conversation With David Shiner

From: Live Journal Blog
by anonymous

My first reaction to all of this was 'I have to dialogue about this'. So I called my friend Katie and we talked. In testimony to our Shimer education, the two of us felt lost dialoguing without a source text. Our response was to call Dave Shiner and ask numerous questions. Here's what we jotted down from our conversation:

1. Although retention is up, enrollment is down, donations are way down in the last 5 or so years. This doesn't mean the end of Shimer tomorrow, but it does mean that growth isn't happening. No growth means no grants. Shimer is trying to consider options while they are still in a position to bargain rather than in a position where they have to take whatever they can get.

2. This year 38 out of 103 FTE will graduate (this doesn't account for natural attrition). Unless an enrollment feat not seen since the 1970's occurs, enrollment will be under 100 for first time in 15 years.

3. The big picture being considered with all of this is the long-term sustainability of the college.

4. Per capita crime statistics for the geographic area surrounding IIT do show that the area is more dangerous than Waukegan. IIT has campus security and a seemly safe on campus record.

5. The campus is lacking in green space and the area surrounding the campus is what we in Chicago tenderly term 'up and coming'. This means it is not as bad as it was 20 years ago, but still not too good.

6. The date of December 18 is the day the school plans on hosting the last assembly meeting of the term at which the potential move will be discussed. This date was chosen with the hopes that more details of the potential move could be ironed out by then and many students will still be on campus.

7. The final decision will be strictly left to the board of directors. This will probably happen in January. The board's vote will take into consideration the discussion from the Dec. 18 assembly.

8. The agreement with IIT is being discussed as a lease agreement allowing limited cross registration but without sacrificing class size or Shimer purpose.

9. The thought behind the move is that Chicago appeals to more students, parents, and funders. There are increased funding opportunities for schools in Chicago (this is one point of definitive fact, however location obviously does not guarantee funding).

10. Vandercook (the music school) has operated independently at IIT for 10 years and they have good things to say about the affiliation.

11. The extended Shimer community was not brought into discussions sooner partialy because it was believed discussion would be creating more problems than solutions when there were no answer and the possibility was still tenuous. Until two weeks ago Shimer didn't know how much IIT planned on charging for the space, or if the number would be something the school could even afford. There was also fear that talk of a potential move would send an "f-you" to Waukegan. Finally, Shimer is still Shimer and there were numerous discussions about getting a communication out there but no decisions or action.

12. The lawyers who will be working on the contract are Shimer graduates.

13. IIT has been very willing to take time out to give tours and speak w/Shimerians when they visited. Even when visits were unscheduled and lengthy.

14. IIT definitely regards Shimer highly and respects the education model.

15. The Humanities program at IIT is pretty weak in comparison to Shimer's. (Dave thinks that we could easily pollute them rather than vice versa. This last part may not be a salient point, but the idea of polluting made me smile)

16. An e-mail from Bill including specifics about the deal will be going out in the next few days or so.

17. You are encouraged to ask questions if you have them. Most of the faculty and staff members are not actively involved in the inner workings of the talks with IIT, but they are open to getting you the information you seek.

18. Dave believes that most of the faculty are retaining judgement until they have more details. At the very least, he is.

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