This year’s report comes at a very interesting time: We’ve now been in Chicago for five years and in May we will be graduating the first large entering class of students who were “recruited” in Chicago and have never known Shimer in any other home, though they may have of course made the trek to Mt. Carroll or Waukegan at some point in their time here. Waukegan now has really become a part of Shimer lore. Some faculty have retired, some are thinking about it, we have now hired 4 new members to the faculty in the last 3 years – which is a sizeable percentage of the current faculty - and the student body has been growing by about 15% in each of the last few years. This year also marks the 10 year period when the Shimer faculty completed a review of the entire curriculum, which will be a major focus of this talk and of a community-wide discussion this Tuesday. I should actually clarify the previous sentence. The curriculum review will be the major focus of Tuesday’s discussion; today I will focus more on a couple of other changes that the faculty made in conjunction with the review. Some of these changes will be implemented immediately, others within the next couple of years. There are a large number of other academic matters that are discussed in the curricular report, as well as the larger Self-Study, that I don’t have time to address here. So take a look at both of these documents. They have been emailed to everyone, there are some copies on the floor, and the curricular review is also the Appendix to the Self-Study Report. I want to publicly thank David Shiner for his work in leading the faculty through this curriculum review as well as through the other ones of recent decades
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Sunday, December 04, 2011
1.What do you particularly enjoy about your present position or a past position that might have some similarities to being President of Shimer?
2. Tell us about one success you have had in your past work, and describe how you achieved it.
3. Based on your current understanding of Shimer, what do you consider the greatest challenge facing the college? (Followup) Have you had experience dealing with this sort of challenge? (If yes) Describe one such situation and tell us how you handled it.
4. What do you see the value of a Shimer-style "great books" education in today's world? (Followup) How would you make this case to a potential donor, a prospective parent or student, or the public at large? Do you think that making this case involves a change in Shimer’s “branding”?
5. Our next President will need to be a collaborative leader. How would you define “collaborative leadership?” (Followup) When thinking about collaborative leadership at Shimer, how would you undertake planning so as to include students, employees, and other stakeholders as partners (rather than simply advisors), and to also make sure that essential tasks are accomplished well and in a timely manner?
6. Have you had much experience working with a governing board(s) as a non-board member? (Followup) What do you view as the proper relationship between the President and the Board, and what sorts of expectations would you as President of Shimer have of the Board?
7. Please tell us about one situation in which you failed and what you learned from the experience.
8. Who have been your models, positive and negative, from among the leaders with whom you have worked? What were the main characteristics and achievements that they modeled?
9. What questions do you have for us?
Finalists are expected to visit the campus in late January.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
It has become common enough for large, well-established universities to publish their self-studies online -- after all, what do they have to lose? -- but it is much rarer for schools anywhere near Shimer's size to do so. A web search turns up nothing, for example, from Reed College, let alone St. John's. An abundance of praise, then, is due to the self-study committee and the College for taking this bold and significant step forward for transparency.
Frances Shimer -- who insisted on keeping public records well after the school had passed into her and Miss Gregory's sole control, and without whose unwavering commitment to unvarnished excellence we would have no school to defend -- would certainly approve of this move.
Well done, Shimer!
Shimer's lucky thirteenth president has been working pretty hard lately to rehabilitate his
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Sunday, November 12, 2011
I. Report on the Minutes of September 11
II. Committee Reports: Committee reports have been sent out through the Bulletin
Board and willnot be presented orally. Please read them prior to the meeting.
Questions for committees are welcome.
∙ Administrative Committee
∙ Admission Committee
∙ Financial Aid Policy Committee
∙ Grievance, Appeals, and Judicial Committee
III. Administrative Reports: (Requested by the Agenda Committee)
∙ Mary Pat Barbarie (Development): 5 min
∙ B David Galt (Presidential Search): 5 min
∙ B David Galt (Student Life Reorganization): 15 min
IV. Tabled Item from 9/11: 15 min
∙ Motion: that Shimer College elect a student in the spring of each calendar year to
be designated as Student Representative to Outside Organizations. (Motivated by
∙ Note: If this motion passes, the Assembly will promptly hold this election.
V. Elections: 15 min
∙ Financial Aid Policy Committee (3 day students, 1 weekend student, two faculty,
∙ Student Replacement for the QLC
VI. Dean Barbara Stone’s Report on the Academic State of the College: 30 min
VII. Proposed Amendments to the Assembly Constitution:
∙ For discussion only to be voted on at the first Assembly of 2012. SEE BELOW.
∙ (1)Transparency (motivated by Eileen Buchanan); (2) Authority (Motivated by
Albert Fernandez); (3)Committee reports (motivated by Eileen Buchanan)
Friday, September 09, 2011
In a wonderful and unprecedented move, not only the agenda of the current Assembly and minutes of the previous Assembly, but also the committee reports, have been posted publicly on alumni.shimer.edu. Many thanks to Aaron Garland for making this significant step towards openness possible.
The agenda has been reproduced below, for convenience. Here are direct links to the committee reports: Academic Planning Committee, Administrative Committee, Admission Committee, Development Office, Grievance Committee, Quality of Life Committee.
Agenda for the Meeting of the Shimer College Assembly
September 11, 2011 – 4 PM
1) Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of April 10, 2011 (prepared by Secretary Neel Rana)
2) Questions and Responses to Committee and Departmental Reports
3) Progress Reports:
a. Accreditation Self-Study (Colleen McCarroll)
b. Presidential Search Committee (B David Galt)
4) Discussion of proposed amendment to the Assembly Constitution to expand the official membership of the Quality of Life Committee (QLC) from its current seven members to ten (motivated by B David Galt).
5) Elections for Assembly Officers and Committees (to begin September 12, 2011):
a. Admissions Committee (announcement of results of online election)
b. Grievance, Appeals, and Judicial Committee (“ “ “)
c. Quality of Life Committee (“ “ “)
e. Speaker of the Assembly
f. Agenda Committee
g. Secretary of the Assembly
6) Discussion of Student Representative to Outside Organizations (motivated by Erik Boneff)
7) Student Elections:
a. Board of Trustees (2 Weekday, 1 Weekend)
b. IIT Representative
c. Other representative(s) per result of discussion of Agenda Item #6
Friday, August 26, 2011
I’d like to take this opportunity to cordially invite you to the first meeting of the 2011-12 Shimer College Assembly. The Assembly is the broadest governance structure of Shimer College and deliberates on matters that affect the integrity of the College as a community. It normally meets only four times a year, so it’s important to attend each meeting in order to be as involved and well informed as possible about various matters at the College.
Prior to that meeting, which will take place on September 11, you will be receiving reports by email from a number of departmental directors and chairpersons of committees of the Assembly. I recommend that you read those reports carefully and come to the Assembly meeting prepared with questions concerning them if you have any. In the interests of time, those reports will not be read at the Assembly meeting, but all questions will be welcomed and the appropriate persons are expected to be there to respond to them.
The September 11 meeting will consist primarily of elections to Assembly committees and offices. There will also be at least one additional report and at least one discussion item. The agenda will be posted and otherwise distributed at least 5 days in advance of the meeting.
If you have items you would like to be considered for discussion at the September 11 meeting, please send them to a member of the Agenda Committee (Albert Fernandez, Rebecca Noble, or me) no later than 8 PM Monday, September 5. Priority will be given to items submitted by 8 PM next Tuesday, August 30, but we will also consider those submitted between then and September 5. If you are interested in submitting an item for Assembly discussion that is not of immediate concern, you should consider submitting it before the next Assembly meeting, which will take place on November 13.
If you are new to Shimer and would like to know more about the Assembly prior to the first meeting of the current year, you should plan to attend an information session. It will take place at 2 PM on “Community Tuesday,” September 6, in the Cinderella Lounge.
The September 11 Assembly meeting will take place in the Cinderella Lounge beginning at 4 PM. I hope to see you there.
Speaker of the Assembly
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
In the words of alum Chris Vaughan, without whose yeoman labors this achievement would have been impossible, "A very special honor for our very special school."
Shimer College provides and preserves education centered on discussion of enduring questions and issues. Historically influential original sources are studied through Socratic questioning, in small seminar classes and following the kind of Great Books curriculum advocated by Robert Maynard Hutchins. The core values informing education at Shimer are free inquiry, dialog, critical open-mindedness, and integration of disciplines. The College offers all members of its community the opportunity to participate meaningfully in deciding the future of the institution. A Shimer education demands much of both the intellect and the character of students, and prepares them for responsible citizenship and the examined life.
(And while I'm generally on the Assembly's side in these matters, I am depthlessly grateful to the Board for eliminating the unnecessary dashes in the Assembly version.)
Monday, May 02, 2011
I have an anonymous donor on the line who has decided to back me in a little writing contest. This writing contest is designed to do two things:
1) Talk about Shimer.
2) Talk about why the Shimer learning experience was/is important to you and how.
To enter: write a note, post a blog, write a general entry, and either tag me, email me, forward me a link so I can find it. All entries must make it to my Inbox/Facebook/Blog Comment, etc by no later than Midnight May 9th, 2011.I will collect all the entries, read everything and select the winners.
In your entry please specify if you are an Alumni or a current student. (For the record Alumni covers anyone who has attended Shimer regardless of graduation status, and current students are currently attending).
Winners will be announce on May 11th, 2011, in celebration of the 158th anniversary of Shimer College. Winning entries will be re-posted as notes here, and also on the Shimer College and the Future blog (http://www.shimercollege.blogspot.com/).
Here is the challenge:
In 158 words (no more, and no less, it's a challenge) explain how the unique Shimer learning experience has benefited you in a real world way.
Creativity is encouraged, but every entry must be based on a true personal experience.
I would like to donate all the entries (winning or otherwise) to Shimer College to be shared with potential students, current students, and alumni as a way of further spreading the word about the value of a Shimer Education. Be aware of that if you decide to enter.
Prizes: For the record I love shopping in the Shimer Bookstore (http://store.shimer.edu/stores/1/) and think you should all do that too, but for the fun of this, the Anonymous Donor has given permission to offer the following prizes to encourage you to donate your entry.
Alumni of Shimer College
1st Place: $50 dollar Amazon books gift certificate
2nd/3rd places $25 dollar Amazon books gift certificate
Any currently enrolled student of Shimer College
1st Place: $50 dollar Amazon books gift certificate
2nd/3rd places: $25 dollar Amazon books gift certificate
I encourage everyone to spread the word and Post Facebook Notes, Blogs, and Emails of your entry. Emails can be sent to me at saradevil <at> gmail . com. Of course my facebook is right here. So share, link, repost, tweet, etc, and let's explain to the world what we value about our Shimer learning experience, and why 158 years is just the beginning.
Friday, April 29, 2011
(Adam Kotsko is already known to some Shimerians in his capacity as a blogger, through outlets including An und für sich. It is perhaps unsurprising that a blogger of Shimerian interest would also be vocally skeptical of the value of blogging in higher education.)
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
April 10, 2011 – 4 PM
1) Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of February 27, 2011 (prepared by Secretary Neel Rana)
2) Committee Report Updates and Questions
3) President Noonan’s “State of the College” Address
4) Elections for Assembly Committees (to begin August 2011):
a. Academic Planning Committee
b. Administrative Committee
c. Budget Committee
5) Discussion of Number of Members on upcoming Presidential Search Committee
6) Consideration of the following proposed Amendment to the Assembly Constitution, motivated by David Shiner on behalf of the Academic Planning Committee (APC): The description of the APC should be amended to include the clause, “the APC is responsible for setting salary policy for the faculty.”
7) Consideration of the following proposed Amendment to the Assembly Constitution, motivated by David Shiner: All instances of “committees of the College” should be amended to “committees of the Assembly.”
8) Discussion of the following proposal, forwarded to the Assembly by the Agenda Committee on behalf of its author, alum Sam Henderson (Class of ’98):
[That] the Assembly establishes a temporary ad-hoc committee on external relations. The committee is to consist of at least one student, at least one faculty or staff member, and at least one alum, and may expand its membership (to no more than 10) by unanimous consent of the members. The committee will seek suggestions and feedback from both the internal and external communities, and will report back to the Assembly with its proposals no later than the second meeting of the fall 2011 semester. The purpose of the committee will be to explore ways of establishing stronger ties between the Assembly and the external community, and particularly to find better ways of communicating the actions and significance of the Assembly and its committees to groups outside of the internal community, including alumni, friends of the college, and the general public.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
[Rock Island Line schedule as of 4/3/2011 (PDF)]
(Shimer is of course already very well-served by the CTA's Red and Green lines, and also advantageously situated within blocks of the Dan Ryan Expressway and Lake Shore Drive.)
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Adrian Nelson, participating in the Oxford study abroad program, recounted her visit to Poland over Christmas break:
While some of it was devoted to recovery time from the previous semester, as well as working on - le gasp - a thesis and other break projects, I finally got a chance to see some of the continent. I might not have, but a family invitation to spend Christmas in Poland gave me the perfect opportunity.
Alexandra Rosenberg, meanwhile, posted her memories of Montaigne scholarship competitions past:
I didn't win the Montaigne, but I earned something invaluable during the competition: the decision to go to Shimer. It is one of the best ideas I've ever had and cannot imagine being happy without receiving the education I am today.Sara Hall, back from Oxford, reflected on how to cure the dreariness of winter:
Little things like lime green pants to help cure the winter dreariness of Chicago, and bring a smile to a stranger's face, if even for a moment. These are just as important as getting that Kierkegaard reading done and successfully contributing an interesting idea to the class discussion.And reflecting further on the Shimer-in-Oxford experience, Sara agreed with fellow student Jesus Aviña that "it was kinda like boot camp":
It was an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. As I told my family, I went to Hogwarts, and I came back a wizard. A very happy, much more confident, and much less anxious wizard, ready to face the future and see what adventures it holds.Shimerian-in-Haiti Steven Werlin reported on Jackson at School and invited us Meet Eileen, and described the End Game:
As we look to further expansion in the coming year, we'll need to apply what our experience has taught us. We need to get more disciplined, more focused during the selection and enrollment process. We can't let our need to hurry push us to cut corners, miss steps, or spread ourselves too thin. Haitians say "two prese p ap fè jou a ouvri." That means that too much hurrying doesn't make the sun rise. It's wisdom worth bearing in mind.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Despite being placed in an incredibly difficult position by last year's difficulties, Amy did an absolutely awesome job for Shimer. Had Shimer's enrollment faltered during the recent crisis, no one could have blamed Amy. Had Amy herself decided it was simply not worth her time to run the Admissions department in the midst of raging internal strife and numerous unkind accusations against her, no one could have blamed her for stepping aside.
But she held the course, and despite the enormously trying circumstances that surrounded her, enrollment has not merely held steady but risen, currently standing at an eye-popping (by Shimer standards) 128 students. Amy also did important work behind the scenes to make sure Shimer has the tools to handle a changing and increasingly difficult college admissions landscape.
Amy's tenure has been a success by any measure. This blogger joins the rest of the Shimer community in wishing her well in all of her future endeavors.
Monday, March 07, 2011
Shimer College—the Great Books College of Chicago—provides and preserves education centered on discussion of enduring questions and issues. Historically influential original sources are studied through Socratic questioning, in small seminar classes and following the curriculum developed by Robert Maynard Hutchins. The core values informing education at Shimer are free inquiry, dialog, critical open-mindedness, and integration of disciplines. As a community, the College offers all its members the opportunity to participate meaningfully in deciding the future of the institution. A Shimer education demands much of both the intellect and the character of students, and prepares them for responsible citizenship and the examined life.(Hopefully the topics discussed will include the distinction between appropriate and inappropriate use of the em dash. )
2. This Thursday, March 10, at 7 PM in the Welcome Room of the McCormick Tribune Campus Center, there will be a talk by Paul D'Amato on "The Meaning of Marxism."
3. Friday, April 1, at 7 PM in the Cinderella Lounge at Shimer, there will be a lecture by 1970 Shimer alum and Fortune 100 executive Michael Berry, on the subject "From Shimer to the Corner Office."
4. Thursday, April 9, at 7 PM at Benton House in the Bridgeport neighborhood, the Shimer-IIT group End Hate will have a Volunteer Benefit Show.
5. Thursday, April 14, at 7:30 PM, and through Sunday April 17th, at a location TBA, the Performance Studies class will be performing The Importance of Being Earnest.
6. The Spring 2011 Commencement will be held May 7. Location and time TBA.
Friday, March 04, 2011
Postings on Blog.shimer
December saw two postings from Shimer's study abroad program at Oxford University. Shimer-in-Oxford's worthy guide, Stuart Patterson, reported on the End of Term:
I realize I haven’t said much yet about the range of subjects folks are studying here. So I want to pay tribute to everyone’s hard work this term with just a list of some of the tutorials that they’ve undertaken over the last few months - the list isn’t exhaustive, though it might exhaust you just reading it: “Christian Mysticism,” “Druidism and Paganism,” “History and Practice of Observational Astronomy,” “Early Writing Systems,” “Chinese Literature,” “Feminism,” Proust,” “Philosophy of Mind,” “French Lyric Poetry,” “Psychology of Religion” and “Classical Guitar” to name, literally, a few. Next term promises just as rich a harvest of ideas, with “Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit,” “Government and Politics of the U.S.,” and “History of Consciousness through Material Studies” a few of the courses we have planned.
Shimerian-in-Oxford Adrian Nelson reported on The Fine City of Bath and a Stone Henge:
Dinah Gumns presented the written portion of her writing week project, Moves & Mobiles, reflecting on the impact of the Shimer experience:
The decision to go back to school had more intense consequences than quitting a job or two and racking up more student loans; I was engulfed with creative energy. As this year pushed on, it has only become stronger. I have introverted greatly. I have found that I am in my head 80% of the time. As I bike to work I try to wrap my mind around the previous day's Sociology reading. I laugh at the similarity of drivers throwing temper tantrums to the tantrums of chimpanzees. My people-watching skills are now verging on creepy. I do math problems in my head for fun; this is the most surprising, really. I am astounding myself daily.
Shimer also held a chess tournament.
Fearless first-year Shimer video blogger Dorian Electra posted on "Euclidean Aerobics":
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Shimer College, the Great Books College of Chicago, is pleased to announce the three winners of its Montaigne Scholar’s Competition. Mark Surya, of Morganville, New Jersey, won a full-tuition scholarship; Kelsey Crick, of Louisville, Kentucky, and Edward Vlcek, of Chicago, won half-tuition scholarships. All scholarships are renewable for four years, with a full-tuition prize worth over $100,000.
Congratulations and welcome to all!
Those who aren't familiar with Shimer's annual Montaigne scholarship competition can learn more here:
The Michel de Montaigne Scholarship will be awarded to students new to Shimer on the basis of students' merit in writing and discussion--the kind that Shimer students undertake every day. The scholarship honors Michel de Montaigne, the French Renaissance author and essayist.
This seems like a good time to mention that the Montaigne scholarship is currently unfunded, due to Shimer's lack of endowment or other funds to support scholarships. If that seems less than ideal, there's no better day than today to Support the Great Books!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
To join the meeting:
If you have never attended a Connect Pro meeting before:
Test your connection: http://shimer.na5.acrobat.com/
Get a quick overview: http://www.adobe.com/go/
Adobe, the Adobe logo, Acrobat and Acrobat Connect are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.
As noted previously, the livetweet will go forward on @shimerians with overflow to @samuelhenderson if needed.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
These ads are nothing new, of course. Similar campaigns have helped to draw students to the weekend program in decades past as well. As 1988 graduate Jim Tudor recalled in his graduation address, these announcements can be particularly helpful in reaching potential students who have some awareness of Shimer but do not realize that it has a program tailored specifically to them:
I met a graduate of Shimer who told me that he never had a lecture in his four years of college. All his classes worked as a group discussion with the professor acting as a co-investigator. I felt sad about not knowing of this school earlier, but continued with my self-education program.Not only is the Chicago area the most logical recruiting area for the weekend program, it is also especially rich in students with precisely this exposure profile. This fact makes this kind of advertising particularly appropriate and -- with any luck -- effective.
One day, while driving on the Kennedy expressway, I heard an advertisement on the radio about weekend classes at Shimer College geared toward working people. I became very excited. Many of the people driving near me became very excited also, but not about Shimer.
If, like me, you feel that Shimer is using its limited resources wisely in promoting this valuable program, why not take this opportunity to support the Great Books and take home a set? More than $2700 has been raised so far.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The Assembly will be webcast, in part for the benefit of students in the Oxford study abroad program. It will also be livetweeted -- I mean it this time!! -- commencing at @shimerians and continuing to @samuelhenderson if necessary.
February 27, 2011 – 4 PM
2) Committee Report Updates and Questions
3) Proposal for an addition to the section on “Powers of the Assembly” in the Constitution of the Assembly (amended by the Agenda Committee from the proposal from Jonathan Timm that was discussed at the November 2010 Assembly meeting):
Election of members of the Assembly to any Assembly committee or office, as well as nominations of Assembly members as representatives to the Board of Trustees, may occur remotely. Participation in Assembly meetings, including voting, may only occur in person except for Assembly members who are participating in a remotely located, official Shimer College program.
4) Two proposals and a motion from the Ad Hoc Committee to Study the Agenda Committee:
a) The Ad Hoc Committee recommends to the Assembly that the Agenda Committee take measures, whenever possible and advisable, to avoid on-the-floor editing and word-smithing of motions and resolutions. We recommend that, to this end, the Agenda Committee continue or increase the use of methods for which there is precedent: A) Committee editorial feedback to the writers of motions and resolutions prior to dissemination, B) editing by the Committee itself with the consent of the author, and C) dissemination of motions and resolutions well in advance of their formal publication in the agenda, with an invitation to community members that they convey suggestions and proposed edits directly to the authors before publication of the agenda.
b) In addition, and to the same end, the Ad Hoc Committee recommends that from now on the Agenda Committee first bring motions and resolutions to the Assembly for discussion and suggestions, including friendly amendment, and then bring them to the Assembly for voting at the following or a later meeting, unless, in the judgment of the Agenda Committee, urgency or other considerations, including the use of method “C” above, prevent, or eliminate the need for, a two-stage process. Friendly amendments would be in order when proposals are introduced, formal ("unfriendly") amendments would be in order when proposals are to be voted on, and debate would be in order at both first- and second-stage meetings.
c) The Ad Hoc Committee moves that: The Assembly accepts and endorses the February 2011 recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee to Study the Agenda Committee, and directs the Agenda Committee to put them into practice. (Motivated by Harold Stone for the Ad Hoc Committee)
5) Proposal for the creation of an ad hoc committee whose responsibility would be to organize Assembly volunteers to assist the College, especially with respect to enrollment and advancement efforts. The Committee would gather lists of volunteers and a way of contacting them, and would then consult with the Admission and Advancement offices abut their needs and how the volunteers might be used. This committee would consist of at least 2 Weekday students, a Weekend student, and member(s) of the staff, with composition otherwise determined by the Assembly. (Motivated by Harold Stone)
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Here is the fine print:
All donations to Shimer College must be made no later than March 7th (Dan Shiner’s birthday) for this cause. Anonymous donations are appreciated, but we will not be able to award any gifts to those who choose to donate without providing a name.
*Make a donation of $100+ and you will receive a signed first edition book (one per donor). It may not be Hemingway, but Dan says it will be something like a signed Sue Grafton or a signed Capitalist Manifesto by Adler and Kelso.
*Make a donation of $10+ and your name will be put into a drawing for a complete used set of the Great Books (one entry per donor).
*Be the largest individual donor ($1000 min) and you will also receive a complete used set of the Great Books.
DONATE DONATE DONATE!!! That is all.