Since Mike and others have requested a write up of what was discussed at Sunday’s alum meeting, I will do my best to oblige. To be honest, we were all over the place, and no one issue got discussed in any great depth. Far more questions were posed than were answered and we seemed to bounce back and forth between things. It was difficult to keep up while I was taking notes, and even more difficult to make sense out of it once I got home. This will not have the larger narrative that my other summation did. Here are some of the informational points that came out of the meeting, in no particular order.
- No Shimer Trustees will sit on the Board of IIT. No IIT Trustees will sit on the Board of Shimer.
- It appears to be primarily Mount Carroll Alums who are in favor, and Waukegan Alums who are opposed to the move (not that there aren’t exceptions).
- In 1989-90, Shimer started exploring joining, merging, etc with other colleges. We had a 14-hour assembly, with more than 70 points on which there was discussion and a forced yes/no vote. At the end of fourteen hours, the assembly had agreed to merge with Roosevelt University. However, Roosevelt hadn’t consulted their own faculty, who objected to Shimer professors receiving tenure. So, the merger never happened. Who has this document with the 70+ points on which the assembly voted? Dave Shiner? This could be an invaluable document for considering the issues at stake here. If Shimer has already been through this process successfully once before…
- Our staff salaries are 60% of what they would be at comparable institutions.
- The North Central Commission was about receiving financial accreditation. It was pointed out that we had academic accreditation the entire time.
- Weekend enrollment has been decreasing. Weekday enrollment has been low for the past two years, after having 2 boom years. This means that we are about to graduate 2 unusually large classes. Unless there is some kind of recruitment miracle, our enrollment will be well below 100 next year, and possibly below 80 the year after that.
- Weekend college will also be moving to the IIT campus, should the move be approved.
- A particular point of discussion was Glorious isolation and peace and quiet vs. integration into the world. Mount Carroll campus was very isolated. Waukegan, while located in a city, has some of the same qualities of quiet isolation. Some pointed out that while the IIT campus is really in the middle of things, the campus is not without some green space, but that it is a very manicured kind of green space.
- Security concerns. The “L” stop on the IIT campus has the highest crime rate in the entire area (mostly students getting mugged for their laptops). Albert Fernandez looked into the overall crime rates between University of Chicago, IIT and Shimer. All of them share the characteristic of being islands of relative calm, with below average crime rates, while the space around them has above average crime rates. His analysis was posted on the Shimer intranet, which unfortunately is not available to alums. Albert, would you post your information here?
- Which scenario is more likely to ensure the survival of the college? Some thought there was more life and culture in Chicago. Is there a greater opportunity to market in an urban area?
- Many of the Mount Carroll alums have been unwilling to re-engage with the college. These are the people who are excited by the prospect of the move to IIT.
- There would be a kind of Institutional Relations Committee created to discuss any issues that arise between Shimer and IIT, such as student discipline, etc.
- Our Bond would be paid off by the sale of the Waukegan campus.
It would take 2 ½ million dollars to bring the Waukegan campus up to spec.
- The Alum Donor base is going to shrink in future, if only because the number of alums graduated from the college in the past 27 years has radically decreased. Right now, the last round of Mount Carroll alums are at the height of their giving power.
- It will cost approx 60 thousand dollars to move the college.
- Shimer’s library would be integrated into IIT’s.
- Bill Rice will be meeting with officials from the city of Waukegan. They do not want Shimer to move out of Waukegan.
- Notable quotes: There is no harsher landlord than poverty. Albert Fernandez
We’re betting the school. Barry Carroll On this issue, many people were struck by the risk we would be taking in moving the school.
- Albert reports that after a recent faculty meeting, most of the faculty are provisionally in favor of the move.
- In our financial projections for the move, we’re only betting that 6 IIT students will be taking Shimer classes.
- A Provisional Satellite arrangement? Bill Rice says it’s unfeasible. However, Albert, Mike Weinman and Erik Badger are putting together a proposal for a provisional arrangement, lasting perhaps 5 years.
- The Assembly will be on December 18th, at 4pm.
- Why is enrollment declining? According to the school’s present research:
Complete lack of visibility
Lack of Scholarship money
I hope this was helpful.
Class of ‘96