Sunday, November 27, 2005

From David Shiner: Helping Hands

Helping Hands
Hi, it's David Shiner again. I've got a favor to ask of everyone who has posted on this blog. I sent a letter to all current members fo the internal Shimer community earlier this week. That letter stated in part:
"A number of staff members are in the process of preparing reports on the IIT issue that will be collated during the week after Thanksgiving. The product of those reports will inform the next phase of discussions with IIT, resulting in a document concerning a possible lease agreement. This should be completed and ready for general distribution sometime the following week.

"In the meantime, I will be preparing a document representing the collective wisdom of the Shimer community. What are the major issues at stake, perceived and real? What will be resolved prior to December 18, and what will wait until afterward? How are things likely to play out if we remain in Waukegan versus if we move most of our operations to IIT? And so on.

"In order to do the best job on this I can, I ask that everyone in the Shimer community bombard me with whatever facts, opinions, or questions you have concerning any aspect of this....I’ll also use the notes from every meeting I’ve attended, from web blogs, from passersby, from everywhere. The Accreditation Self-Study group will help me prepare a document for
distribution to the entire Shimer community."

For these purposes, I'd like your permission to print excerpts from what various people have written on ths blog, along with your name, in the document I'm preparing. Of course I won't reprint everything, but I would like to have the option to include various statements and questions that seem particularly important to various aspects of our considerations.
If you are willing to permit me to do this, simply email me at david@shimer.edu and write "Yes" or something simple like that. If you're willing to have me quote you on some things but not others, let me know that too. If I don't hear from you at all I might use your words, but I won't attribute them to you by name.
Whatever you decide concerning this, please let me know as soon as possible, as I only have two weeks to complete the document. Thanks to all.
David

6 comments :

Alan said...

Dave, you have my permission and encouragment to quote anything I've blogged here. I'm an example of a fearful younger alumn who has been swayed by arguments from older alumns.
I'd like to hear more about the future role Waukegan would play in Shimer College. Much of the discussion seems to be about an absolute choice between these two locations. However, my understanding is that not all of Shimer would be moved. Id be interested in knowing which buildings would be liquidated. What the shape of a Wuakegan campus would be if most of the services left for ITT.
Other than that specific question I feel pretty up to date on information. Thanks for always being there for us.
Cheers
Alan Perry

David Shiner said...

Thanks for the kind words, Alan. As far as what would remain on the Waukegan campus, nothing has been decided yet, and it's not likely that it will be until the decision concerning IIT is made. However, it's pretty clear that if the IIT proposal is approved, most of the buildings in Waukegan will be sold off over the next couple of years. Shimer would need the money to pay IIT for the lease. So, while it's not an absolute choice between the two locations, it's pretty clear that we'd only be operating a small operation in Waukegan, possibly not offering any undergraduate courses there at all. If that happens, I would anticipate that we'd move out of Waukegan entirely within a few years, although that's just a guess on my part. I don't see that we have the resources or energy to run programs in different areas for very long.

If the decision is to remain in Waukegan, the opposite could happen: Shimer could entertain the possibility of starting a low-cost pilot program at IIT or somewhere else in Chicago. Again, we don't have the funds to run two full programs, one in Waukegan and one in Chicago; we can't pay mortgages and full-scale rent at the same time. But I do think it's worth thinking as flexibly and creatively about the issues and prospects as possible.

Saradevil said...

Dave,

Feel free to quote me in or out of context whenever you need to. I'll hopefully have time to write more on it soon...

Cheers,

Sara

Edward McEneely said...

David,

I'm deeply concerned by the fact that the school, should it move to IIT's campus, has no plan to reverse the declining enrollment numbers, and hasn't even really looked into it, and apparently isn't even willing to hazard a guess as to how soon a reversal of the current trend might come about. I think that's a pretty serious issue, and one which needs to be addressed before any move can take place.

Joni Garcia said...

I would like to address Ed's comment that the school "has no plan to reverse the declining enrollment numbers, and hasn't even really looked into it, and apparently isn't even willing to hazard a guess as to how soon a reversal of the current trend might come about."

As Bill mentioned last night, we have identified three main problems that affect enrollment and this is what we are doing:

1. Lack of visibility/name awareness--we submitted a new marketing plan to the board in October (a collaboration between the board's marketing committee, admissions and development) which includes strategies for addressing this problem. They are in the works.

2. Lack of scholarship funds--that is what it is, but we are also making finding a solution to this problem a priority.

3. Campus facilities--if we stay in Waukegan, we will continue our "beautify Shimer" activities as funds and volunteers are available. If we go to IIT, we will have not only more impressive facilities, but more amentities to offer students.

There is no silver bullet here. No one thing that is going to suddenly change things overnight. So if you are looking for guarantees, there are none. To say we have no plan and haven't even looked into it is an insult.

D. R. Koukal said...

Dave, something you said just made my stomach drop:

". . . most of the buildings in Waukegan will be sold off over the next couple of years. Shimer would need the money to pay IIT for the lease."

But, what if the move doesn't work out? We'd have no collateral. This scares the bejeezes out of me.

Of course, you can use anything I've blogged.