Nov 16, 2010
For those of you who missed President Noonan's announcement at
Sunday's Assembly (about which more below) and for those who want more
detail, the lawsuit brought by Thomas Lindsay and Patrick Parker
against Shimer and several individual defendants (Nelson, Noonan,
Fernandez, Werlin, and Dan Shiner) last May has been settled out of
court. Only the court's approval of the settlement, which is almost
automatic, is yet to take place as of this writing.
The principal terms of the settlement are as follows:
1--The plaintiffs (Lindsay and Parker) withdraw their suit ("forever
waive,release, acquit, discharge, and hold harmless all of the
2--Both the plaintiffs and the defendants (us) agree to never again
sue or counter-sue over the matters brought up by the current lawsuit.
3--Plaintiffs agree to never again seek or accept employment or formal
association with Shimer College.
4--Thomas Lindsay is to be paid $80,000.
5--The settlement does not commit the parties to any restriction of
commentary or expression of opinion.
Provision # 2 obviously leaves some room for interpretation, and does
not apply to individuals not named in the lawsuit and not acting on
behalf of Shimer College. Neither does it prohibit legal action in
pursuit of new complaints, including, notwithstanding #5, complaints
for alleged libelous or defamatory statements made after the
settlement by anyone against anyone. The lead attorney on our side has
underscored this possibility and I relay his request that we all be
Provision #3 does not take away Patrick Parker's status and privileges
as a Shimer College alumnus.
The sum in provision #4 is to be paid not by Shimer College but by the
College's liability insurer. There may still be some cost to the
College in raised premiums--as with no-fault car insurance. However,
I have it from one of the attorneys that the insurer has always
regarded this lawsuit as "frivolous" and presumably not counting as a
basis for increased premiums.
November 14 ASSEMBLY:
Eileen Buchanan and myself proposed an amendment to the Preamble of
the Assembly Constitution that would delete the "subordination
clause," that is, the wording that gives the Board of Trustees
automatic precedence over the Assembly in the event of a conflict.
The idea of striking the clause was first suggested by alumnus Dan
The amendment motion, which required a 2/3 (35 votes) majority to
pass, was defeated. To the best of my understanding, there was no
opposition to the amendment in principle, but enough to defeat it on
the grounds of caution and not being too much "in your face" with the
Board. I will not argue that those who opposed our motion were wrong
to choose prudence in this particular instance (though it will give me
some satisfaction if all you late-night comedians out there make the
most of the fact that this was probably the first motion in Assembly
history to be defeated by a vote of 31 in favor and 22 abstentions).
But I will say that, in the long run, if the endangered species of
education and of community that Shimer represents is to survive, the
community, and especially the Faculty, will sooner or later have to
again conduct themselves as they did last year, and speak assertively
and independently, and not in the language of lawyers and supposedly
pragmatic concerns, but in the language of philosophy and vision. I
may have much more to say about this in an article for
Oct 16, 2010
As of 5:17 pm CST a total of seven Trustees, all of them supporters of the Lindsay administration, have resigned today [Oct. 15, 2010]:
Joseph Bast, Frank Buckley, Bill Escamilla, Michael McDonald, Kathleen McCreary, Milton Rosenberg, and Bud Vesta.
Oct 15, 2010
Today, October 15, Joseph Bast, Frank Buckley, and Kathleen McCreary--all members of the "Executive" party-- resigned from the Board of Trustees. I may later report more details.
Sep 27, 2010
held today, September 27, seven Trustees were inducted into the
Board. The newly elected or reinstated Trustees are Barry Carroll,
Katherine Chappell, Mary Lou Kennedy, Robert Keohane, Peter Hanig,
Sandra Hockenbury, and Linda Levy. The motion, which was to induct
the seven nominees as a single slate, carried by a vote of 16 in favor
and 10 opposed. All of the current internal Trustees took part in the
vote. At the request of Trustee Frank Buckley, it was noted in the
minutes that today's elections may be annulled if last month’s
amendment of the College Charter to allow election by simple majority
is successfully contested in litigation.
The new Trustees are familiar with the College's recent
and ongoing conflict and are expected to support Shimer's traditions
and constitutional practices, giving the "Constitutionalist" party an
ample majority on the Board from this point on. All of the newly
elected Trustees are alumni of the College. The absence from the slate
of Waukegan and recent alumni who were candidates last year but not
nominated at the time may be disappointing to some. It was explained
to me by a member of the Nominating Committee some time before today's meeting that priority was being given to candidates who would be able to provide substantial financial support to the College. Some of the new Trustees have already done so.
Albert B. Fernandez
Faculty TrusteeSpeaker of the Assembly
Aug 23, 2010
The vote was 17 in support of the amendment and 11 opposed. One additional opposition vote by proxy was ruled out of order and not counted, but recorded in case of judicial overrule. Four affirmative votes (from four internal Trustees) were challenged by the opposition but the challenge was ruled invalid by the Chair, though the challenge was recorded.
In a meeting that, though still emotional, was mostly legalistic and far less heated than the May meeting, there were numerous parliamentary and legal challenges to the amendment, the voting, and the proceedings from the “Executive” party, besides the two mentioned above. In general, the objectors promised litigation to annul the amendment. I understand that a court injunction had also been sought to prevent today’s meeting from taking place.
No other action was taken by the Board at this meeting. As I understand it, the Nominating Committee, with the support of the Executive Committee and the “Constitutionalist” party, plans to proceed to the nomination of new Trustees for election according to the amended Charter, including some of the candidates last year’s Nominating Committee declined to nominate. Two Constitutionalist Trustees who were not re-elected at the May Board meeting seem likely be nominated and some new candidates have been proposed. There are no immediate-term plans for the majority to use its new power to remove Trustees.
In my opinion and speaking strictly for myself, I think that the objections raised to the amendment and the proceedings by Executivist trustees were weak, and that the responses to the objections by the Chair and by other Trustees were strong and well informed. Yet again, the Trustees who have been attempting to end constitutional governance at Shimer have neglected to do their homework and shown little understanding of our college, its constitutional documents, and even of the law. When the vote of student representative Trustee Heath Iverson was challenged on the ground that he has graduated, Heath was well prepared with a response, which the Chair endorsed. I am personally gratified that, after the votes of the two Faculty trustees were challenged on the grounds of conflict of interest, when I asked Trustee Frank Buckley “what exactly is supposed to be in conflict with what?” he was unable to give a direct answer.
I am posting the preceding because I believe that Shimer students and alumni, who have given so much in various ways during this civil conflict, are entitled to being kept informed. I do ask that you all use discretion and judgment in relaying what I have written, that you bear in mind that Shimer is in the midst of litigation, and that you contact me or other internal Trustees before in any way taking this news to the general public.
Albert B. Fernandez
Speaker of the Assembly
May 27, 2010
From Albert Fernandez:
At today's meeting of the Board of Trustees:
1. A lawsuit was served by attorneys representing Thomas Lindsay and Patrick Parker, who have jointly filed suit against Shimer College, the Shimer Board of Trustees, and against Christopher Nelson, Albert Fernandez, Steven Werlin, Dan Shiner, and Ed Noonan as named defendants. Their aim, according to Parker, is to reverse the removal of Tom Lindsay. (At least as of now, I am not very worried about this lawsuit.)
2. Chris Nelson has been re-elected Chair of the Board.
3. Barry Carroll, Mary Lou Kennedy, and Patrick Parker have not been re-elected to the Board.
4. Marc Hoffman becomes a member of the Board by virtue of position as Assistant Treasurer.
5. Seven Trustees voted against awarding degrees to the May ’10 graduates.
6. There were several heated exchanges.
7. It was reported that the Chicago Tribune has already or will soon be releasing a story on the lawsuit.
May 22, 2010
Though there's certainly more work to be done, this is another great victory for the College. Keep it up Shimer!
May 12, 2010
Thank you for your commitment to Shimer and we'll be in touch, as events require . . .
Click here for the Shimer Alumni Alliance Facebook Page
Apr 20, 2010
Lindsay's eagerly-awaited departure has been noted in the Chronicle of Higher Education as well as many major online media outlets.
This announcement represents the culmination of a struggle which started months ago and upon which Shimer's very identity has been staked. A heartfelt thanks goes out to all those who have worked hard defending our plucky college in this time of great need.
Please stay tuned. There is much left to do to support Shimer now that it is free from Lindsay's influence. We'll have more details to you on this soon.
Shimer College President Steps Down
Shimer College, the Great Books College of Chicago, has announced that its 13th president, Thomas K. Lindsay, will be stepping down effective immediately. Long-time trustee Edward Noonan, chairman of Chicago Associates Planners & Architects, has been named interim president until the college undertakes a search for a new president.
Mr. Lindsay accepted the Shimer presidency in June 2008 and assumed formal leadership of the college in January 2009. During his tenure, he brought fiscal responsibility to the college by insisting upon balanced annual budgets and eliminating the college’s trailing deficit. Chairman of the Board Christopher Nelson said, “We are grateful to Tom Lindsay for his financial leadership over the past year and a half and wish him well in his future endeavors.” When asked about the change in leadership, Mr. Nelson said “Shimer continues to face many challenges, but we are fortunate to have an experienced leader like Ed Noonan ready to step in and assist us through this transition.”
Former Chairman of the Board, Edward Noonan is a 20 year veteran of Shimer College and was named Trustee Emeritus in 2000. Said Mr. Nelson, “Ed Noonan is uniquely positioned both as someone who understands the long history of Shimer, but also as someone who understands the necessity of improving the administrative structures within the college. We look forward to Ed working with faculty & staff, alumni, students, and the Board of Trustees to continue the good efforts currently being undertaken by the college administration until we search for our next president.”
Through the years Mr. Noonan has been actively engaged in professional and civic activities at the University of Chicago and throughout the Chicago area. No stranger to the IIT campus, Edward Noonan conducted his graduate studies in architecture under Mies Van Der Rohe. Now a renowned Chicago architect, Mr. Noonan currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Chicago Associates Planners & Architects where he has most recently overseen innovative and eco-friendly development projects for Tryon Farm.
Mr. Noonan is now charged with continuing his recent efforts to strengthen internal structures, reach out to the Chicago community and college supporters, and respond to the new energy of Shimer alumni. “I’m grateful to once again have the opportunity to serve Shimer College. I am looking forward to helping an institution with such a unique and noble educational mission,” said Mr. Noonan.
Jan 27, 2010
- An explanation for why you should be concerned
- An explanation for why you should be concerned, NOW
- An archive of relevant documents
- Suggestions for how you can help
- Up-to-date information about the unfolding conflict
If you would like to stay abreast of this struggle with timely updates, or just want to offer your comments, please contact us at email@example.com.
Given the circumstances, it's a really good question. Despite overwhelming support from the Assembly, a powerful letter from a unanimous Shimer faculty supporting the Assembly's affirmation of the current mission statement, as well as a petition from both students and alumni in support of the current mission statement, a determined faction of the Board voted against community consensus, instead adopting the clearly unpopular, hastily drafted, last-minute rewrite of Shimer's mission statement by President Tom Lindsay.
What the hell just happened, you ask? Well, here's our answer.
1. October 2009: Mr. Lindsay offers his "guideposts on the mission" in an hour-long lecture to the internal community. Though it's billed as a "discussion," questions are not welcomed.
2. February 3, 2010: Mr. Lindsay met with the Shimer community and respectfully disagreed with faculty, staff, students and alumni about what the mission of the College is (see notes here).
3. February 7, 2010: The Shimer College Assembly considers several alternative mission statements and votes overwhelmingly to affirm the current one. Since Mr. Lindsay had only submitted "guideposts", the Assembly could not vote specifically on his proposed mission statement.
4. February 8, 2010: Noting the "soft conviction" of the [unanimous] Assembly on behalf of the current mission statement, "Bud" Vesta - a Lindsay trustee nominee from 2009 - sends an open letter to Lindsay and the Board asking Mr. Lindsay to draft a rewrite of the Shimer mission for consideration by the Board at their plenary meeting of February 20.
5. February 15, 2010: Mr. Lindsay submits his whole-cloth rewrite of the Shimer mission statement to the Board via email. The Assembly doesn't have a chance to respond to it. As per Lindsay's own strategic plan, it is not formally scheduled for a vote until the May 2010 Board meeting.
6. February 19, 2010: A day before the plenary meeting of the Board, Patrick Parker - the chair of the hiring committee who forced Lindsay's hire despite overwhelming internal community resistance in 2008 - claims that there exists a legally-binding grant document that was supposedly signed by Dean David Shiner and former president Bill Rice in 2006, according to which Shimer MUST rewrite its mission statement to include the terms "Great Books of Western Civilization", "Socratic method" and "Hutchins Plan" by April 10, 2010. Though Dean Shiner does not acknowledge this claim and Parker does not produce the document, Parker uses this as a pretense for forcing a vote on the issue at the February 20 plenary session of the Board.*
7. February 20, 2010: The Board, by a narrow vote of 18 to 16, adopts Mr. Lindsay's whole-cloth rewrite of the Shimer College mission statement.
"What the hell just happened?" The short answer: Snake oil, a la Lindsay. What's gonna happen next? Stay tuned. Like Aristotle says, "This shit ain't over yet."
* NOTE: Since the time this was written this grant document has been produced (read it here). Though it clearly does not demand the mission statement be rewritten, it does demand that Shimer "craft a charter" which reflects Parker's priorities. Dean Shiner did not sign this document, as Parker claimed. In fact, he thought that Shimer had already met this requirement with a "Vision Statement" he had written for use elsewhere. The reason for the April 10 date was because on April 11th Parker's foundation - the free-market "Aequus Institute" - was having a board meeting. The suggestion was clear enough: vote to change the mission or lose any future funding from Aequus and be in breach of a legal contract.
For an article on this disreputable action by Parker, click here.
The summary argument can be presented in two simple points:
- Thomas K. Lindsay, the current president, has been and is mismanaging the College by repeatedly demonstrating contempt for Shimer's traditions of shared governance and genuine, open dialogue.
- President Lindsay's ideological imbalance disables him from listening to and, thus, representing the diversity of our students, faculty, and alumni.
As you learn more, we hope you'll engage in the fight to defend Shimer from Tom Lindsay's failing, ideologically driven mismanagement, and visit our subsequent post on how you can help.
- On November 15th, with broad participation, the Assembly passed three resolutions which, in different forms, recognize the moral authority of the Assembly and the tradition and importance of shared governance at Shimer. At the February meeting, the Board will decide how to respond to these resolutions.
- For the last couple of months the internal community has been discussing the review of Shimer's mission statement. Despite its broad community support, Lindsay has proposed getting rid of the current mission statement entirely and replacing it with his own whole-cloth rewrite. At the next Assembly meeting - on February 7th - it will be taken up as well, possibly leading to more resolutions. At the February meeting, the Board will likely take up the issue of whether and, if so, how to change Shimer's mission statement.
- On January 18th, the Nominating Committee of the Board tabled six new trustee candidates by a split vote of four to three. Not only does this amount to turning down $60,000+, but it is also the first time that any trustee nomination has not been offered to the full Board for a vote or been passed since the Mt. Carroll years. Since this committee is dominated by Lindsay's ideological allies, and passing the nominations could upset his tenuous majority on the Board, many speculate that this was done to defend his power. We expect the question of how to proceed with these nominations will be on the agenda at the February meeting as well.
This is why we should all be concerned about Shimer, NOW.
*This post is at this point, of course, dated. At the February Board meeting, the Assembly's November resolutions were ignored; Lindsay's mission rewrite was narrowly passed (see post above, "Feb. 22 Update: What the hell just happened?!"); and the tabled trustees were not addressed.
How, then, you ask, has Tom Lindsay created such controversy in such a short time? One word: Mismanagement.
Follow the link below and read the "Report" section for a thoroughly researched, objective account of President Lindsay's management failures leading to the current crisis. FYI: This document has been vetted by Shimer faculty and President Lindsay, himself. Great thanks to the Promulgates staff for this impressive document.
- Write an email to Shimer's Advancement office (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com), copying President Lindsay (firstname.lastname@example.org), Assembly Speaker and Faculty Trustee representative Albert Fernandez (email@example.com), Dean of the College David Shiner (firstname.lastname@example.org), and us (email@example.com) expressing your dissatisfaction with his leadership and making clear your unwillingness to financially support the College until certain conditions are met. For an easily edited sample letter, click here.
- Call Shimer's Advancement office (312-235-3545) and make your position heard personally to Mike Guillot, Advancement Director, or to Tom Lindsay, President.
- Write a letter to the same at: Office of Advancement, Shimer College, 3424 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60616
- DO YOU HAVE MEDIA CONTACTS? If so, direct them to this page and/or have them contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use this sample letter to invite them to do a story about Shimer.
- LINK THIS PAGE TO EVERY WEB PRESENCE YOU HAVE - facebook, twitter, et. al. - so we can spread the word (check the links on the sidebar to facilitate this).
- TELL ALL YOUR SHIMER FRIENDS WHAT'S HAPPENING AND GET INVOLVED!
Jan 26, 2010
-Tom Lindsay on Bill Clinton (see full article here)
Thomas K. Lindsay is not the kind of radical conservative that many on Shimer's left would like him to be. He doesn't rave and his rants are well-spoken, politically measured and often - too often, some might say - reference Aristotle. He was, indeed, a W. Bush appointee to the NEH and, thus, a member of one of the most radically conservative presidential administrations in U.S. history, but the work he did - the Picturing America Project - was perhaps the most benign thing Bush could take credit for. He was an adjunct Heritage Foundation "scholar" - perhaps the best-funded conservative think tank in the history of the planet - and he likes to go to their meetings (like this one), but his available writings for them are a far cry from the scorched-earth narratives one can easily find in their archives. He wrote an essay endorsing Alan Keyes as a vice-presidential candidate and a movie review which placed responsibility for becoming pregnant solely on women, "by nature." He apparently also penned an article contesting affirmative action for the National Association of Scholars (see their defense of Lindsay under "Shimer in the News" in the sidebar), though, after it cost Lindsay a job at St. Joseph's in PA, he presumably had it taken off the NAS website as it appears to have vanished from their archives.
The most damning evidence of Lindsay's ideological agenda for Shimer, however, is found in an appeal he made to a director at the Cato Institute which he made the mistake of leaving out on the Shimer floor. Referencing the recent Reader article (see "Shimer in the News" in the sidebar), he brags about being labeled a "conservative menace" in the "left-wing media," claiming that it's because he is "restoring serious civic education to the curriculum - the core of which is the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Federalist, etc. . ." This letter reveals not only the kinds special interests he's seeking to support Shimer - Cato is another leading ultra-conservative think tank - but his attitude toward the conflict he's creating at the College. Far from being concerned that he has upset the Shimer community so much by his actions that the story has made its way into the local news media for lack of internal recourse, Lindsay proudly uses it as proof that he is succeeding in his project of remaking Shimer in his particular ideological cast, a cast that will fit, he suggests, nicely with the interests of the Cato Institute. What's perhaps more remarkable is how he takes credit for these American foundational documents being a part of Shimer's core curriculum. Last time we checked, they've been in there since we adopted the Hutchins curriculum in 1950.
In addition to these troubling facts, in his short tenure as Shimer's president, Lindsay has brought sixteen new members onto the Board. Though expanding the Board is not in itself a bad thing, the fact that they all have such radically conservative credentials reveals Lindsay's own agenda. Recent Board members include: multiple W. Bush appointees, multiple Earhart Foundation grant recipients, multiple Olin foundation grant recipients, contributors to and the president of the Heartland Institute, contributors to the National Review, the President and CEO of Free to Choose Media, the founder of the Center for Individual Rights, and on and on . . . (see bios in the following post)
What unifies these Board members is a mix of conservative and libertarian platforms: free market "solutions" to public policy problems, small government, traditional cultural values, individual liberty as a U.S. national ideal, etc, etc. And, though the fact that these ideologies are represented on Shimer's Board is not itself a problem, the fact that they're all of this ilk is. President Lindsay claims to be committed to open dialogue, but on the Board he's not interested in hearing any viewpoints but these. And, apparently, neither are his Board allies: they recently tabled six new nominees, the first non-Lindsay motivated nominees since his presidency began and the final six needed to reach the 40 the ByLaws allow (see post above, "Why you should be concerned about Shimer, NOW").
In the end, President Lindsay's ideological imbalance disables him from listening to the Shimer community, rendering him an ineffective manager. He's willing to talk with you, but after a point, he won't hear you. At a school based on genuine dialogue, it's no wonder why he has failed as its leader.
Assumed trusteeship under Thomas K. Lindsay:
Thomas K. Lindsay
Matthew J. Franck - Letter on Shimer's Governance
Bob Chitester - Letter on Shimer's Governence
Carson Holloway - Letter on Shimer's Governance
Michael P. McDonald - Letter on Shimer's Governance
Claudia Allums - Letter on Shimer's Governance
Joanne P. DiGennaro
Milton J. Rosenberg
Vinton A. "Bud" Vesta
Assumed trusteeship under William Craig Rice/Ronald O. Champagne:
Christopher B. Nelson - Chair
Patrick J. Parker ('54) - Letter on Shimer's Governance
Joseph L. Bast
Charles A. Lang
Shirley A. Conibear ('68)
Mary Lou Kennedy ('74) - Secretary
Assumed trusteeship under Don Moon:
Rebecca A. Sundin ('99)
Edward W. Walbridge ('56)
Peter William Schroth ('66)
Christopher English ('72)
Barry J. Carroll ('66)
Phil Farina ('73)
Sally Brown ('65) - Vice Chair
Edie Barschi ('75)
Daniel Shiner ('77)
Curent Faculty Trustees:
Albert Bades Fernandez
Steven J. Werlin
Current Student Trustees:
Heath Iverson ('10)
Robert H. Carpenter ('11)
Katy Martin Seaver ('12)
Ralph Wendell Conant
Edward J. Noonan
- Mr. Lindsay and the Board could formally and respectfully recognize the Assembly resolutions from November 15. The Assembly and its committees are a symbol of Shimer's commitment to real, authentic, dialogue - dialogue in which everyone's voice is taken seriously and the best ideas govern rather than simply the ideas of those with power. The contempt Mr. Lindsay and some of his allies on the Board have shown for the Assembly has demonstrated an arrogant disinterest in engaging in genuine dialogue and, predictably, raised fears about their ability to represent our unique community and the direction they want to take it in.
- Mr. Lindsay could take the overwhelming community opposition to his suggested rewrite of the mission statement seriously, admit that his view does not represent the community, and set aside the cause of changing it. People are open to reconsidering it, but they're furious about his arrogant assumption that he understands what Shimer does better than the entire community after sitting in on a handful of classes. He doesn't, and if he respected the community and knew how to listen, he'd take this off his agenda. Practically speaking, as a leader, he should realize that it's not worth the political capital him and the Board are losing over the fight.
- The Board could bring the six trustee candidates who were "tabled" by the nominating committee on January 18 to a full vote. When the Board, for the first time in recorded history, effectively turns down $60,000+ and several new members whose qualifications meet or exceed the qualifications of current members, all while the stated claim is that we want to expand to 40 members, it makes the community wonder why. Unfortunately, the obvious reason is that they weren't Mr. Lindsay's nominees and they don't have strong libertarian/conservative credentials like our last 20 or so candidates.