Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Letter recently received from Shimer

Hello.... is there anybody out there? I received the following e-mail from Shimer College today:
June 7, 2016 Dear Laura, As you have heard, Shimer now faces a great opportunity: to move from unsustainability to sustainability through an affiliation with North Central College in Naperville. The Boards of Shimer and North Central have endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would lead to Shimer becoming the Shimer Great Books School of North Central College, parallel to other schools at NCC. The Shimer Board is enthusiastic, and the Faculty and Assembly have been strongly supportive. We (Chris and Rebecca) also personally believe that this prospective arrangement for Shimer is a wonderful opportunity to maintain the Shimer program, which has contributed so much to all of our lives. But to make this deal work, Shimer will need to raise substantial amounts of money over the next year, since it is an explicit requirement of the MOU that we remain financially viable on our own until March 2017. As you know, we have a detailed development plan. If you write to Isabella Winkler at i.winkler[@redacted], she will send you a copy via email. Shimer needs to raise $900,000, which will involve at least doubling our gifs [sic] from alumni, both in the general alumni appeal and in major donations of $5000 or more fr om alums. In the past, many alums have contributed loyally to Shimer but have not made it a top charitable priority - quite naturally, since our sustainability was always in question and no one wants to throw money away. Now, however, we have a chance to give in this 'window of opportunity,' confident that our gifts will help Shimer become sustainable over the long term. Several of us on the board have already decided to vastly increase our giving to Shimer. Those of us who are soliciting funds feel that we can only ask others to "stretch" if we do so ourselves. Please consider whether you could give an order of magnitude more than in the past-- $10,000 instead of $1000, $5000 instead of $500. If not, please at least consider doubling or tripling your previous gifts. Shimer has been such an integral part of our lives. It has taught us more than just critical thinking; Shimer has encouraged us to be curious in our every endeavor. Shimer has taught us that being different is not only acceptable, but actually desirable. And most importantly, Shimer has shown us through the examples of its amazing faculty how to be strong and persevere with grace and dignity. It is our most fervent hope to keep these same learning and growth opportunities alive for future generations, and that is why we are working now to keep the fires burning for Shimer at North Central. Won't you please join us? Sincerely yours, Chris Vaughan and Rebecca Sundin
I'n not on Facebook, so I have questions. 1. My impression was that Shimer would actually be absorbed in whole by NCC. Am I to understand that "affiliation" differs from "absorption"? 2. I'm a little put out by the "no-one wants to throw money away" comment. I am not currently giving to Shimer because I am yet recovering from three years of unemployment due to long illness. I'm getting back, but currently saving to buy a bottle of ketchup (we'll pretend that I am being ironic so I don't have to weep); 3. I don't know that there was any avenue for reply, other than giving or descending upon Ms. Winkler-- or giving. If I am to be consigned to naked eggs for the next few months, I would very much like to know to what, precisely, I am giving. Is there a web page outlining this somewhere?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Recent coverage of Shimer

A few days ago, Jon Ronson published a piece in the Guardian about Shimer. It may be the best and most Shimerian publicity that Shimer has ever received. You should read it.

The article was prompted by the pushback against the Washington Monthly's recent rating of Shimer as "worst college in America" for a certain set of criteria (which are worthy of separate discussion). Since nobody was coming out of the woodwork to defend any of the other "worst colleges," Ronson decided to visit Shimer to find out what it was all about.

What happened next was kind of epic.

I get talking to Albert Fernandez, a professor of cultural history and humanities. He has the intense demeanor and indeterminate European accent of a Slavoj Žižek. He leads me into a classroom as austere as he is and tells me how angry he is about the list.

“What we do at Shimer,” he says, “is difficult. It’s difficult to sit in a small room with six or eight students and have your beliefs challenged. If a school is hard to graduate from for reasons to do with an attempt at educational quality – that should be taken into account. The writer said nothing about that.”

A look of fury crosses his face, at the thought of Shimer being penalized for what makes it great. He says a lot of places that top those best colleges lists are the opposite of difficult. They’re undemanding. “If you’re going to take education seriously you can’t have a system where the objective is to make it as easy as possible to get through.”

At this writing, the article has received more than 14,000 interactions on social media, including more than 900 Tweets and more than 140 LinkedIn shares. The article itself has 343 comments, which are also well worth reading.

For a time it was the Guardian's #3 article sitewide:

The article was tweeted by Neil Gaiman (he of 2.1 million Twitter followers), who followed up with a personal greeting to the people of Shimer:

The article has since been picked up by Longreads, The Baffler, Gapers Block and others, and is continuing to spread. At this writing, some 4 days after it was posted, new tweets of the article are still coming in at about 3-5 per hour.

Here are some notable response pieces by Shimerians and others:

... and on the matter of response pieces: although unworthy of a link, one of our old friends from 2010 is apparently still nursing old grudges:

If Joe Bast is still mad at Shimer, we must be doing something right.

Please share the Ronson article with anyone you think might be interested in Shimer!

(updated to include new response pieces -- December 18, 2014)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pictures taken at an inauguration

Via the official Flickr page:

Created with flickr slideshow.

You can view my own photos from that day, which mostly cover the pre-inauguration discussions, here. (I've attempted to upload them to Shimer College Wiki, but something went haywire and I haven't had time to fix it.)

Both my and the College's photos are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution license, so please share freely!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shimer College Assembly to meet August 28

The Assembly of Shimer College will meet at 3:15 PM this coming Wednesday, August 28, in the Cinderella Lounge at Shimer.  The agenda is as follows:

Meeting of the Shimer College Assembly

3:15 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cinderella Lounge

1. Welcome from the Speaker and review of Assembly protocol and procedures by the Parliamentarian.

2. Approval of Minutes from meeting of April 21st, 2013.

3. Questions on Committee and Director reports to the Assembly.

4. Motion from David Shiner (10 minutes):

To suspend until the Fall 2014 meeting of the Board of Trustees the clause in the description of the Institutional Goals and Assessment Committee in the Constitution of the Assembly that states "Trustees whose terms on the Board end during their term on the Committee cease to be members and are replaced by election."

5. Elections:

- Replacement(s) for Institutional Goals and Assessment Committee

- Secretary of the Assembly

- Admissions Committee

- Agenda Committee

- Quality of Life Committee

- Student Representative to IIT Student Government

6. David Shiner, Chair of the Institutional Goals and Assessment Committee, presentation on community participation in the committee's work.

7. Announcements from the community.

8. White Whale presentation on new Shimer College website.

9. Adjournment.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Help Shimer build a kick-ass website

Via trustee Chris Vaughan ('86) comes the following request:

HELP SHIMER BUILD A KICK-ASS WEBSITE. The dangerously new Shimer website will launch within weeks, and it will be kick-ass. But WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW.

We need you to RECORD A ONE TO TWO MINUTE VIDEO about your favorite book you read or discussed at Shimer and let us post it on the site. It can be a memory of a classroom moment, your own personal feeling about the book, or a fun story that's only partially connected to the book.

The only rules are (a) you should mention the book at some point; and (b) that you should try to look at the camera. Any HD camera will do (even an iPhone). Please email submissions to i.winkler@shimer.edu as soon as possible. We really do need your help.

Below is a sample from an honorary Shimerian, Jason Pontius, who heads up our web design firm. He did his thing. Now you do yours.