Sunday, November 12, 2006
The college that went away to school
Shimer College's move from Waukegan to IIT brings about unique blend of
By Jeff Long
Tribune staff reporter
Students from a small liberal arts college in the far north suburbs have been mixing quietly for the past
month in their new home on the Chicago main campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, where
students delve chiefly into things such as science and engineering.
Socrates likely would have been fascinated by the culture clash.
Shimer College has been in Waukegan for a quarter century, a haven for lively intellectual debate. Its
"Great Books" curriculum goes directly to the source of learning: the works of Plato, Newton, and Darwin,
But as much as anything else, the move to IIT's campus on Chicago's South Side is a practical one,
Shimer's president told faculty, alumni and students at the college's convocation Sunday in the new IIT
President William Craig Rice said more prospective students are contacting Shimer now that it is in
Chicago, and fundraising is ahead of schedule.
With enrollment at about 80 students, he said there have been 570 inquiries from prospective students
since August. Usually, there are about 400 inquiries by this time of year, he said.
Meanwhile, students from Shimer can take technical courses from IIT and IIT students can take courses
Although classes have been under way for a month, the convocation officially marked IIT's welcome of
Shimer College to its campus.
After the convocation, Rice said Shimer's enrollment has been stagnant for 15 years, and he hopes the
move will end that. He expects Shimer to remain Shimer, however.
"You sit down with the books and the conversation begins again," he said. "You could convene a Shimer
class on a mountaintop in North Carolina and the conversation begins again."
Students attending Sunday's ceremony agreed.
Noah Kippley-Ogman, 20, is taking a differential equations class and calculus 3 from the IIT curriculum.
Because he wants to be a math teacher, the move means he'll be able to stay with Shimer by taking the
Otherwise, he'd have attended another college for those classes.
"I really like living in Chicago," he added. "It's a lot better than living in Waukegan."
That helped tip the balance for Nicolette Stosur-Bassett, 17, who is in her first year at Shimer.
"It made it a lot more appealing to me, because I wanted to go to school in the city," she said.
Stosur-Bassett, who is from Glen Ellyn, said city life gives her easy access to the museums and theaters
Liz Todd, 17, is a second-year student. To some extent, she's sorry to leave the Waukegan campus. "It's
really exciting in some ways, because you get to be in Chicago," she said. "But it's hard to leave behind a
place you called home."
She already has been to the symphony, the Goodman Theatre and the Art Institute. "Living in Chicago is
great," she said.
Shimer students also will have access to IIT student facilities and services under the long-term lease
Shimer signed, Rice said, adding that he's looking forward to seeing how the two sets of students and
"It's the interchange between scientists and humanists," he said.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Tiny Shimer College completes move to Chicago campus
CHICAGO - Shimer College, a liberal arts school with a student body of only about 100, has moved its campus for the second time in its 153-year history.
After spending the past 28 years in suburban Waukegan, Shimer this month completed a move to leased space on the South Side campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Shimer president William Craig Rice said he hopes the move will make the school more attractive to students and enable it to boost its enrollment to 300 or 400.
But not all of the students appear happy with the change. One senior, Kyra Keuben, said the new surroundings were a bit bleak.
"Before, we had classes in homes with fireplaces," Keuben said. "Now we have the second floor of a business office. It's not as cozy."
Shimer is one of the nation's few Great Books colleges, which is a curriculum that eliminates textbooks and focuses on reading original texts by writers who have shaped Western culture.
Most of Shimer's students major in philosophy, but Rice said the new arrangement will allow them to take science and engineering classes at Illinois Institute of Technology. Students at the technology institute will be able to take liberal arts at Shimer.
Shimer was founded as a women's seminary in 1853 by two upstate New York educators, Frances Wood and Cinderella Gregory, on a small campus in Mount Carroll.
Enrollment at the Mount Carroll campus peaked at about 600 in the middle 1960s. Then in 1979, the Mount Carroll campus was sold and the remaining students and faculty moved to Waukegan.