Friday, November 20, 2009

Letter to Shimerians Regarding By-Laws Changes

Via Karen Stabler,

This is a letter sent out by Dave Shiner explaining by-laws changes that were adopted by the assembly in 2008.

Dear Shimerian,

There appears to be some misunderstanding about the current constitutional roles and powers of the Board and the Assembly, especially with respect to changes that were approved by those bodies of the College in the spring of 2008. In the interest of helping to clarify these matters, I crafted the message below and sent it to the Board of Trustees last week. The faculty discussed governance issues at today's faculty meeting, as a result of which I was asked to forward that message to the entire Shimer community. So here it is, with very slight modifications. If you're interested in governance issues, you should find it helpful. Comments are welcome.

David Shiner


Dear Board Member,

In my remarks last Friday night concerning recent changes to Shimer's governance structure in general and to the By-Laws of the Board of Trustees in particular, I mentioned that it is difficult to summarize those changes briefly. In this email I'd like to offer a bit more background information so as to obviate any future misunderstandings.

On the basis of some statements made during last weekend's Board meetings, it might be thought that the changes in Shimer's governance that took effect last year, particularly with respect to the revisions of the By-Laws approved by the Board in 2008, marked a revision from democratic self-governance to a chief executive model. That would be a considerable
overstatement, albeit a somewhat understandable one given the time constraints that the Board faced last weekend. In point of fact, the formal changes approved in May 2008 were quite focused, although also significant.

The Board By-Laws already recognized the President as Chief Executive Officer of the College; the Assembly Constitution stated that, if there were to be any conflict between its strictures and those of the Board By-Laws, the By-Laws took precedence. However, each document had developed over the years in such a manner that there were some inconsistencies between them,
and there was growing concern that such lack of clarity would lead to confusion and ineffective decision-making.

For those reasons, Interim President Ron Champagne recommended and spearheaded the composition of a Task Force in early 2008 to study both documents and to recommend changes to the respective bodies. That Task
Force, on which I served, consisted of Board members and internal members of the Shimer community. Its agenda was set and its meetings moderated by Glenda Eeyong, an alumna of St. John’s College and a member of their Board of Visitors and Governors, who had previously facilitated a similar conversation at St. John’s as they amended their governance structure.

The express charge of the Task Force was, in Glenda's words, "to identify and resolve inconsistencies between the Assembly Constitution and the Board By-Laws for Shimer." In so doing, the Task Force was expected to explore the foundations of effective decision-making and action and to help clarify
the roles and responsibilities in the decision-making process for the Board, the Assembly, and the Executive Management Team (that is, the President and upper-level administrators).

The formal changes recommended by the Task Force and subsequently approved by both the Board and the Assembly included responsibility for (1) hiring and firing and (2) preparation and submission of the annual budget to the
Finance Committee of the Board. Prior to 2008, the Assembly Constitution recognized the Administrative Committee of the Assembly as responsible for the former and the Budget Committee of the Assembly as responsible for the
latter. With respect to effective decision-making, the Task Force concluded that it would be best if those roles were expressly given to the President in all College-wide documents. It was therefore recommended that the Assembly Constitution be amended so that those committees became advisory to
the President with respect to those roles, and that the Board By-Laws be amended to reflect the consultative role of those committees on those matters. The Assembly approved those changes in April 2008, and the Board approved them the following month.

Several other changes were approved by each body at that time, although those were restricted to matters of internal consistency or insubstantial revision. Otherwise the Board By-Laws and the Assembly Constitution remained unchanged; the powers of the Board, the President, and the Assembly
generally remained as they had been prior to 2008 with the exception of the revisions mentioned above.

As a concrete example of what changed and what did not, I will offer the example of the hiring of an upper-level administrator. At any time from many years ago until last spring, the Shimer President would have recommended a candidate and a proposed salary within the salary structure set by the Administrative Committee of the Assembly. The Administrative Committee would have made the final decision on both. In April 2008, as mentioned above, the Assembly voted to amend the description of the Administrative Committee so that some parts of the domain of its former powers became advisory only. The first paragraph of the description of the committee in the Assembly Constitution now reads as follows:

"The Administrative Committee is responsible for advising and counseling the President and the Executive Team regarding the supervision, direction, and management of the College on matters including, but not limited to, the hiring of new non-academic administrators and the setting of policies and
practices. It is also responsible for setting salary policy for
non-academic staff members."

The import of this is clear: the Administrative Committee advises on hiring choices (first sentence), but it sets college policy on salary structure (second sentence). Given this, the President must consult with the Administrative Committee (among others) concerning hiring of an upper-level administrator, but is authorized to make the final decision even if the committee recommends otherwise.

With respect to salary, on the other hand, the President is expected to abide by the College’s salary policy as set by the Administrative Committee. The President is of course welcome to make a recommendation contrary to that policy, but the Administrative Committee must approve it before the President is authorized to proceed with a salary offer. If it does not do so, the President's offer must be within the salary structure approved by the Administrative Committee.

I hope that this brief synopsis has shed some light on the nature of governance at Shimer. I cordially invite all who are able to attend the Assembly meeting that will take place in the Cinderella Lounge at Shimer at 4 PM Sunday, November 15. Also, if you do not have a copy of the current Assembly Constitution and would like one, please let me know and I'll send it to you as an email attachment.

David Shiner
Dean of the College"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Background on Newly Appointed Board Members

This is information, originally from Michael Sussman, posted by Eric Badger and reposted with his permission. Michael took some time to look into the board members whose letters have been posted and which were read during the Nov. 15, 2009 Assembly.

The below comment was posted on my page by Michael Sussman. In a further effort to provide evidence for the current concerns, I'm reposting it here.

I'll just mention, for context, that Patrick Parker was the chair of the Board committee that hired Lindsay. At the time, I was told by other members of the committee that he pushed hard for Lindsay's hire, neglecting other applications, and both passively and actively ignoring the opinions of others on the committee as well as the overwhelming disapproval of the internal community.

As for the others who sent these messages, they are ALL brand new Lindsay appointees, none of them having more than a 6 months experience of Shimer. Pointedly, this means that NONE of them are speaking from experience when they interpret the May 2008 Constitution & By-Law revisions.


Well, this is disheartening. The repeated use of the word "dysfunctional" in 4 of the 6 opinions expressed here makes these sound more like previously agreed talking points than sincere dialogue.

A little googling for background on some of these folks also proved somewhat disturbing:

Patrick Parker, the "second largest financial supporter" is also the president of the Aequus Institute, whose purpose is to promote free market economics and Christian Science teachings. He's also done quite a bit of work for the Department of Defense.... Read More

Bob Chitester is President and CEO of Free to Choose Media, a company dedicated to producing films ranging from an exoneration of Milton Friedman's free market economic theories to documentaries attempting to debunk global warming which feature Exxon-Mobil funded scientists.

Carson Holloway, a political science professor at U Nebraska, is a contributing author to the hard-right National Review Online and given lectures to the authoritarian Family Research Council concerning the immorality of sexual freedom. He's also published books concerning the "moral failure of Darwinism".

Matthew Franck, a political science professor at Radford, is also a contributing author of National Review Online where he argues against gay marriage, abortion, and the general "leftist agenda".

Michael McDonald, General Counsel for the NEH, also founded the conservative law firm Center for Individual Rights (CIR), which litigates affirmative action cases and defends public funding for religious groups. They also were involved with the US vs. Morrison case, in which a female Virginia Tech student claimed several football players had raped her...CIR represented one of the football players. Former staff of CIR includes the prestigious Ann Coulter.

Shimer, what kind of company have you been keeping lately?

An attempt to Summarize Recent Events at Shimer

An attempt to Summarize Recent Events at Shimer

I'm trying to quote people where appropriate, and I may not have all of the information, so do feel free to post comments or corrections for any or all of this information.

As was previously stated by Denise Lane, part of the current issue is:

"Tom Lindsay wants to remake the college and his tactics frighten me."

The frightening tactics are essentially firings and hirings without considering input from the Administrative Committee.

Lack of interest in participating in active dialogue regarding things happen at Shimer.

Proposed changes to the Mission statement (Shimer Mission Statements Past and Present) to move away from active participation and informed decisions and towards something that is not really clear (proposed Mission statement).

Disinterest or unwillingness to participate in the Assembly, or a clear disregard for self-governance in any form at Shimer.

Much of what has happened prior to Nov. 15 was in some way agreed upon by the board in slim majorities. A small group of board members are also interpreting the by-laws in such a way that the Assembly is either obsolete or unimportant to the future of Shimer. (Letters from the Board)

Students and faculty have organized. In the instant of the firing of the former admission's director the faculty formally protested.

"To make matters worse, the President declined to subsequently explain his action, pleading liability exposure. The Faculty formally protested, but the reaction of the Board to the Faculty's protest I think can be objectively described as a dismissal." -Albert Fernandez

Further there are troubling movements on the Shimer board, being described as a crisis.

"Which leads me to the second large feature of the current crisis at Shimer. There is now an undetermined number of new Trustees on the Board who know little about Shimer and who look upon shared governance as an impediment to efficient, corporate management..." -Albert Fernandez

To address the immediate concerns about the Shimer Mission and the Role of the Assembly the Nov. 15, 2009 Assembly had three motions in favor of the current mission statement and to strength both the mission of the college and the role of the Assembly. The Assembly was attended by students, faculty, staff, and Alumni of the school. Some board members were in attendance. Mr. Lindsey sent his regrets but chose not to attend and submitted no remarks to be read to the assembly. There were other board members who were not in attendance. Several did submit letters to the assembly. (Letters from the board will be provided in a separate post.)

The results of the assembly were the passage of the following resolutions: (Thanks to Eric Badger)


I.Resolution addressed to the Board of Trustees: The Assembly of Shimer College: Welcomes and accepts the invitation of the Chair of the Board to dialogue with the Board of Trustees regarding the governance of the College, Thanks all the members of the Board of Trustees for their ongoing service to Shimer College, and looks forward to working collaboratively with them, and Urges the Trustees and the President to respect the moral authority of the Faculty and of the Assembly, as the embodiment of the College’s democratic ethos.

II. The Assembly of Shimer College adopts the following declaration: DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES OF SHARED GOVERNANCE AT SHIMER COLLEGE

III. Be it known that shared governance at Shimer College, and the authority and powers of the Assembly in particular, are based, first, on the history of the College... on ideas and values central to liberal education, to academic freedom, and to our curriculum; on innumerable precedents and public statements over the course of the last four decades; and, further, on the following specific constitutional and other official documents. (Full Resolutions passed)

In all, it's been an amazingly busy week at Shimer. Reports are that the Faculty and Students are demoralized by what is going on. The largest problem with this is that a student body that is miserably unhappy is not one that is going to bring in new students, or have any interest in the continuation of Shimer College. Long term these events could be seriously damning.

From Alumni, some students, and with some support, some of the following actions have been proposed or considered:

Raising money to provide a new board member to Shimer from the recent Alumni group (Waukegan Alums in particular)

Discontinuing all donations until Lindsey has been replaced.

Collecting a donation pool that is held until Lindsey has been removed.

A petition for those interested in providing legal representation for the Assembly (should it come down to a real fight between President, small majority of the board, and the assembly).

So that is a quick overview of what is happening. More on what we can do, how we can participate, and actions to be taken will hopefully be coming.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Resolutions Passed at Nov. 15, 2009 Assembly

I.Resolution addressed to the Board of Trustees:
The Assembly of Shimer College:

Welcomes and accepts the invitation of the Chair of the Board to dialogue with the Board of Trustees regarding the governance of the College,

Thanks all the members of the Board of Trustees for their ongoing service to Shimer College, and looks forward to working collaboratively with them, and

Urges the Trustees and the President to respect the moral authority of the Faculty and of the Assembly, as the embodiment of the College’s democratic ethos.

II. The Assembly of Shimer College adopts the following declaration:

1.All members of the Shimer College community--which embraces students, faculty, trustees, administrative staff, and alumni—have a stake in the identity and future of the College. They have both a right and a responsibility to participate in its governance and direction to the best of their ability.
2.All of the constituencies of the College are entitled to fair and adequate access to, and to means of influencing, the upper-level decision makers and governance bodies of the College.
3.It is an integral part of education at Shimer College, which requires participation in a “Great Conversation” that addresses far more than the particular concerns of the student, that students actively concern themselves with the welfare of the College community and of broader communities.
4.Shimer College recognizes and appreciates the value of experience, education, and expert knowledge in the making of decisions, in reaching them expeditiously, and in the general management of the College. Democratic governance does not mean that all decisions are to be made by plebiscite.
5.Decisions that substantially influence the identity, ethos, or future of the College are to be reached, even when the consent of others is not constitutionally required, after adequate consultation and discussion insofar as possible, and in accordance with the dialogal traditions of the College and the processes set forth in its constitutional documents.
6.To be worthy of the name, consultation must be in good faith and never merely perfunctory. It should involve persons who hold diverse opinions, and it should include honest explanation and full discussion of points of disagreement.
7.The mere general invocation of peril to the College, including legal liability exposure, is not a justification for decisions or conduct that violate the letter or spirit of its ethical norms or constitutional processes. When such peril or exposure actually exists, measures can and should be taken to protect the College while respecting its shared governance. The nature of the invoked threat should be explained as specifically as the welfare of the College permits.

The Assembly of Shimer College
November 15, 2009

Be it known that shared governance at Shimer College, and the authority and powers of the Assembly in particular, are based, first, on the history of the College, which testifies to the devotion and sacrifice of ordinary community members—students as well as faculty--who made it possible for the College to endure against odds; on ideas and values central to liberal education, to academic freedom, and to our curriculum; on innumerable precedents and public statements over the course of the last four decades; and, further, on the following specific constitutional and other official documents:
The Mission Statement of Shimer College
The Constitution of the Shimer College Assembly
The Bylaws of the Board of Trustees, Article V:4
The May 15, 2008 resolution of the Board of Trustees concerning the Assembly.
The 2008 Shimer Strategic Plan
The Ethics Statement of Shimer College
The Constitution of the Shimer College Faculty
The Shimer College Student Handbook
The Board Expectations of the Shimer College President, Expectation 6, from the fall of 2008
The accreditation criteria of the Higher Learning Commission, June 2009.

The Assembly instructs the Speaker to address and disseminate the resolutions adopted on this day to all the constituencies of Shimer College, including Trustees and alumni.

Letters From the Board Read at Assembly

The following messages were sent to Albert Fernandez, Speaker of the Assembly, in advance of last Sunday's Assembly with requests that they be read at the meeting.

NB: As one Trustee present at the meeting made clear: these emails do not represent the Board's opinion; they are the opinions of the named individual Trustees.


Dear Albert,

I understand that the Shimer Assembly will meet tomorrow afternoon to consider the Collegeís governance. Because it will not be possible for me to attend the meeting, I would be most grateful if you would read aloud the brief remarks on the subject that Iíve written below, at the earliest appropriate point in the discussion, so that they may become a formal part of the Assemblyís record. Thank you very much.


Michael McDonald

Dear Colleagues,

I write as a member of the Shimer Board of Trustees to express my dismay that the Shimer Assembly is meeting today apparently to re-open--yet again--the matter of the Collegeís governance. Indeed, I understand that certain members of the Assembly may even plan to introduce measures to reinstitute the participatory model of decision-making that is no longer in effect and that the Board rightly discarded eighteen months ago because of its deleterious effect upon the Collegeís academic, administrative and financial management. I would hope this is not the case; but if it is, I am genuinely amazed.

As you are well aware, Board of Trustee voted overwhelmingly one month ago to reaffirm the May 2008 changes to the By-Laws that ended the previous, dysfunctional mode of governance at Shimer. That should have settled the matter. And yet some among the faculty and staff seem bent on willfully misunderstanding, and obscuring to the Shimer community, what occurred at those meetings. Their obstinate refusal to accept those decisions will only result in continuing student confusion and demoralization. The Collegeís survival depended on enacting the May 2008 By-law changes and the Board acted wisely in making them. It is time to move on.


Michael McDonald

From: Franck, Matthew J
Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2009 8:46 PM

Dear Albert,

I so wish that I could be there tomorrow for the College Assembly with Shimer's faculty and students, but I'm afraid it's impossible. This is an important moment in the College's history. As you'll recall, at the October board meeting, an important resolution was passed, clarifying the respective roles of the Assembly and the College's President in making certain pivotal decisions that set the College's direction. While equivocal and ambiguous language remains in the Bylaws regarding "consultation" by the President with the Assembly in making personnel decisions, those same Bylaws since the spring of 2008 have unequivocally and unambiguously affirmed the "authority" of the President to make those decisions according to his own untrammeled judgment. Since you are one of the College board members representing the faculty, I trust you will convey the message of the board's confirmation of these internal governance principles to the Assembly tomorrow in your capacity as Speaker. It is never pleasant to be the bearer of a decision that went otherwise than we could have wished (as I know all too well as a faculty member and department chairman myself), but sometimes it is our duty to speak for an authoritative institutional decision even though it would not have been our choice had it been our own decision to make. I know that you will dutifully comport yourself as the Speaker of the Assembly tomorrow in clarifying this matter, as the board majority decided it, at tomorrow's Assembly meeting. I would be very much in your debt if you could read this message to our colleagues and students in the Assembly, and carry my warm greetings to them all. Many thanks.

Matt Franck

From: Carson L Holloway
Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2009 9:39 PM
Subject: Shimer Assembly

Professor Albert Fernandez
Speaker of the Assembly
Shimer College

Dear Professor Fernandez,

I regret that I am unable to attend the meeting of the Shimer Assembly scheduled for November 15. I would be most grateful, however, if you could read the following remarks to the Assembly during its meeting:

I understand that there are continued efforts among some Shimer faculty and staff to contend for, and to propagate among the students, an understanding of College governance that is contrary to the plain meaning of the By-Laws, as revised in May of 2008, and to the Board of Trustees resolution of October 15, 2009. I understand the strong commitment that some may hold for a mode of self-governance to which they were long accustomed. Nevertheless, I think it must be admitted that if Shimer College had long operated under such governance, it is equally true that it had also only barely survived under such governance, and that its continued existence under such governance was gravely questionable. The proven dysfunctionality of the old governance structure was precisely why the Board of Trustees voted in 2008 to amend the By-Laws.

I think that further agitation of this question by faculty and staff is not only useless but a positive detriment to the institution. Quite apart from the fact that an institution so continually roiled by such political skirmishing will have a difficult time attracting students and therefore will imperil its own future survival, such behavior harms the College at its heart right now. Shimer's core mission is to provide students with a liberal education through the study of the great books. The fulfillment of this mission is the greatest good that Shimer can offer to its students and, through them, to the community at large. The pursuit of this education is not only the faculty and students' primary responsibility, it is also the most humane and enriching use of their time and energy, which they should jealously guard for this purpose above all. Time for study and thought is short and therefore precious, and it should not be wasted in meddling with the efforts of the College administration, whose only aim is to preserve and enhance the environment in which such study can take place.

I myself learn about and teach the great books at an institution of higher learning, and I try to resist all administrative impositions on my time, because they take me away from my primary work. I willingly consent to particpate in governance, however, when I see that such service can enable others to pursue the kind of studies to which I want to dedicate most of my own time. That is precisely why I agreed to be on the Shimer Board of Trustees. Shimer is almost unique in its commitment to great books education. For that reason it deserves to be saved and to prosper. Further political action on the part of faculty and staff does not help to support the extension of Shimer's mission into the future, and it in fact distracts from that mission in the present. Accordingly, I urge everyone to accept the governance structure that the Board of Trustees has adopted, to pursue their intellectual endeavors will all possible vigor, and to support President Lindsay in his efforts to build up the College.

Thank you for your attention and for your commitment to Shimer.

Carson Holloway

Carson Holloway
Associate Professor of Political Science
275 Arts and Sciences Hall
University of Nebraska at Omaha


From: Bob Chitester
Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2009 11:38 AM
To: 'Albert Fernandez'
Subject: November 15 Assembly meeting


I'm still trying to get acquainted with how Shimer is organized, but if I'm correct as Speaker of the Assembly, you will "chair" tomorrow's meeting. I also understand the Assembly will consider a "resolution(s)" with regard to Shimer College Governance.

Since I cannot attend, but feel students and faculty should know the position of Trustees, would you please be so kind as to read this statement into the record of the meeting.

"It was my understanding when I agreed to serve as a Trustee, that I was being asked to help restore Shimer College to its standing as an exemplar of the "Great Books" model of higher education. At the last Trustees' meeting questions were raised about the respective role of the Trustees, the President, the Faculty and the Students. I was surprised to learn that despite the recent By-Laws change there was still a perception that governance of the College was a communal and consensual process. That is not what I understand, that is not what the Trustees affirmed at our last meeting and that is not how any great institution of higher learning that I am aware of is organized. If Shimer College is to rise to prominence as a Great Books college such concepts must to set aside and the Trustees have so voted."


Bob Chitester

Advocating personal, economic, and political freedom through state-of-the-art media.

Dear Albert,
I am in the uncharacteristic position of having to register a concern about something with which I am only recently acquainted. But after receiving the Assembly agenda for this afternoon the other day, I feel I must so I send this hurried comment to you now with the request that in my regrettable but unavoidable absence from the Assembly today, you will read this note to the Assembly in my stead.

It seems clear to me that faculty and students at Shimer are still intent on challenging the changes to the by-laws made by the board last year and affirmed in our October 2009 meeting. It is disheartening to see from todayís Assembly agenda that the issue is still considered, by some, to be a matter of discussion and, furthermore, to see that this ìdiscussionî continues to foster a culture of dissension at the college.

The value of the way that the Shimer community felt called upon to support and govern itself those years ago when the college was at risk of closing is not in question. Noble sacrifices kept the college from extinction; like a monastery in the middle ages, it was preserved for the future. But in spite of the high regard with which some still hold this manner of governing, the self-governance that developed then was a response to a crisis and was not a re-founding of the nature of the institution. The college needs to move out of what amounts now to an unnecessary mode of self-defense if it is to recall its true founding as a Great Books, liberal arts college. No organism or institution of any kind can thrive if it remains in one stage of being, and Shimer must grow into its future by growing beyond this form of governance which has clearly become a dysfunction of the community rather than a function of the college.

I urge the Shimer community to work together to grow into this future. Although familiar ways and notions must be altered nowóand this is always painful to doóthe changes that have been made by the board are going to secure the true future of the college, not cause its demise.

It may seem disingenuous, here, for me to say thank you for your dedication to Shimer, but I do so, nonetheless. It was your diligent oversight that kept Shimer safe for a future. I ask you all now to let that future begin.

With sincere regard,

Claudia Allums, Ph.D.
Associate Director
The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture
2719 Routh Street
Dallas, Texas 75201

Dear Albert,

I have received the agenda for tomorrowís Assembly meeting and am deeply disturbed by it.

The lengthy deliberations last year which resulted in serious revisions of the Shimer bylaws, left no room for ambiguity as to the implications of the revisions.

Without these changes I do not believe that Shimer would be alive today. They were aimed at making a dysfunctional and wasteful management scheme more effective. They were necessary to raise the funds that are still keeping Shimer alive. The main appeal of Shimer to donors is the Great Books curriculum and the obvious excellence of the Shimer classroom experience. It is not the Shimer governance that evolved in Waukeegan.

The Assembly agenda clearly indicates that the changes in the bylaws were not accepted by some of the faculty and are being misrepresented to the rest of the Shimer community. Fifty years ago I watched Shimer self-destruct over a similar, and to my mind totally unnecessary, upheaval.

As a Shimer alumnus and lover of the Great Books ideal, and also as Shimerís second largest financial supporter, I think that the obvious disaffection of some members of the community is imperiling Shimerís future and our ability to raise the funds necessary to keep the doors open. Like me, Shimerís largest supporter is a graduate of the Hutchins Great Books curriculum. We and other supporters do what we do to advance the educational ideal for which Shimer uniquely stands, and to see Shimer survive and prosper. We 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.

If the Shimer community is going to waste its time and resources on unproductive, wasteful, and destructive internal bickering, you have a duty to let us know. Please read this to the Assembly.
With highest personal regard for you and for all you have done and continue to do for Shimer.

Patrick Parker

Proposed Mission Statment

"Guideposts" for mission statement change by Pres. Tom Lindsay:

"Liberal education is an education for, through, and in liberty.

- 'For' - the highest freedom is the freedom of the mind, that is, freedom from bondage to unexamined assumptions (e.g., partisan politics, ideology, and political correctness).... Read More

- 'Through' - through close study and free, wide-ranging discussion of the greatest works of Western Civilization, students gain the depth and breadth essential to a free mind.

- 'In' - the practice of questioning the competing arguments of the greatest minds regarding life's most serious questions nurtures and, in time comes to embody the qualities of mind and character essential to intellectual

In the course of examining the whole of existence, Shimer recognizes that, to be true to its quest, it must likewise examine its act of examining; that is, must explore the context in which its inquiry takes place. Accordingly,
Shimer studies the Founding documents -- the Declaration, U.S. Constitution, and The Federalist -- as well as the other original sources that both informed the Found and, later, reacted to it.

We at Shimer both acknowledge and appreciate the fact that the very possibility of an education for intellectual liberty depends on our being situated in a system of ordered political liberty such as we enjoy in American democracy."

Information Coming

I'm working together on gather information and will post it as soon as possible, this afternoon in fact. In the meantime any current students or alumnae who would like to be added to the blog to contribute to this discussion, please send me an email at saradevil at gmail com and I will add you to the blog. It really does seem like this current debacle could be a lot more damning for Shimer long term than the move to Chicago.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I have said this before...

I am an alumnae. I have a check in my hand for $100. For every month that goes by that Shimer keeps its old mission statement and fires/ demotes for any good reason, I will mail another such check to Shimer.

I'd like to see others join me.

Preparing for the worst

Dear folks,

Shimerians interested in pursuing independent legal representation for the
Community are invited to send their info (name, year of graduation if
applicable, willingness to contribute funds, anything else that seems
pertinent) to Communications will be kept in
absolute confidence, as far as legally possible. So far 26 have signed on.
Thanks to Dan Merchan for suggesting this originally, and to Katie Harrell
for helping with the signup sheets.

Nobody wants things to work out this way. It is with a very heavy heart
that I am holding on to the modest donation I had been planning to make this
month. I would look toward actual legal action against the Board (which is
to say, against the College as institution) with indescribable horror. And
it is unclear, at this juncture, what avenues might be available even if we
do pursue this. Nonetheless, until the President and Board show by words and deeds that they are prepared to enter
into a dialog of equals with the community, the college will be in mortal
danger of being reduced to a meaningless shell.

In case anyone is wondering what all the fuss is about, here are some choice
words from current Trustees, as contained in the handout distributed at the

"I was surprised to learn that despite the recent By-Laws change there was
still a perception that governance of the College was a communal and
consensual process." -- Bob Chitester

"It is disheartening to see from today's Assembly agenda that the issue is
still considered, by some, to be a matter of discussion and, furthermore, to
see that this 'discussion' continues to foster a culture of dissension at
the college." -- Claudia Allums

"I understand that certain members of the Assembly may even plan to
introduce measures to reinstitute the participatory model of decision-making
that is no longer in effect and that the Board rightly discarded eighteen
months ago..." -- Michael McDonald

"I understand that there are continued efforts among some Shimer faculty and
staff to contend for, and to propagate among the students, an understanding
of College governance that is contrary to the plain meaning of the
By-Laws..." -- Carson L Holloway

These people must be stopped.

Update: In response to some questions and concerns, let me clarify that any legal action (if any is possible) remains an extreme last resort. However, it is imperative that we be prepared to take this step if it is necessary. Much will depend on how (or if) the Board and President respond to the statements made by the Assembly.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Current Shimer Changes, Mission Statement, New President, etc

Via Denise Lane:

Hello! I'm writing you to make sure you, as Shimer alumns, have heard about the current goings-on at the college. I'm worried about the state of the college, as are faculty, students, staff, and other alumns I've spoken to.

The college is at a crossroads, and if the current president, Tom Lindsay, has his way, some faculty and students are allegedly considering walking out.

THIS SUNDAY, November 15th at 4:00pm is an Assembly meeting at the College, which all alumns are invited to attend (we are a non voting part of the Assembly, which means we can speak). At this meeting the Ethos of the College is being defended against a true attempt to significantly alter Shimer's mission. If you are in the Chicago area and can attend - PLEASE DO. I have more specific info I can forward you, just let me know.

Tom Lindsay wants to remake the college and his tactics frighten me. He fired Elaine, the Head of Admissions, without discussing it with anybody in the community, and in my view, without showing proper cause. (Besides which she was being more successful at bringing in the numbers than Shimer has *ever* seen before.) This has current staff members fearing for their jobs.

He then replaced her with a woman who was a student at his past university, who does not have the experience to hold the job. Further, he hired her against the Committee of the Assembly who had thrown out her application twice.

Both Lindsay and his new hire are not participatory in the dialogical method of Shimer, meaning to say I've heard the current community is very frustrated with his lack of listening. This concern is also held by faculty members.

The Board of Trustees does not stop him because it has ballooned by a large addition of *his* friends. The Shimer faculty and students who are on the Board have been ignored and yelled at in the meetings.

Apparently he wants to "water down" the mission of Shimer, and this Sunday's assembly meeting has an agenda item to specifically strengthen the mission instead. Please attend this if you can. I know that current Board members are planning on attending, the voices of alumns (read, possible donors in their mind) mean a lot!

If you are interested in knowing more, I suggest you sign up for "Listen" the Shimer email list which any member can post to, there has been a lot of back and forth on these issues on there. Also the President and the Board of Trustees are on the list as well.

If you are interested in more info, let me know. Otherwise thanks for reading this long. I truly believe in Shimer and I don't want a Neo-Conservative stonewalling and taking over just because he and his friends have a lot of money. Please help.


For those Shimerians who need to get on to Listen to receive the emails: choose the first "this", choose "listen", and create a logon. It will email a confirmation. Let me know if you have any problems.