Dr. Susan Henking is the first woman to be appointed President of Shimer College since its founding. In 1853, Frances Wood (later Frances Shimer) founded the Mount Carroll Seminary together with her fellow schoolteacher Cinderella Gregory, relocating from New York State to western Illinois to provide a formal education for a local population that had no access to public schools.
Susan trained in Religious Studies, receiving her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Duke University in 1977. Dr. Henking’s academic career is distinguished by an extensive publication record of scholarly works on religion, psychology, the history of sociology, gender, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, diversity, and leadership in higher education. She is also co-editor of two books, Que(e)rying Religion: A Critical Anthology (New York: Continuum, 1997) and Mourning Religion (University of Virginia Press, 2008), and founding series editor of the Teaching Religious Studies Series forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
At the time of her appointment in 2012, Susan said, “I am thrilled to be joining Shimer College, following in the footsteps of founders Cinderella Gregory and Frances Wood Shimer in coming from upstate New York to Chicago. Shimer is an exciting place: asking enduring question in new times, and creating and sustaining responsible citizen intellectuals. I am looking forward to working with faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and the many friends of Shimer in the coming years.”
In her first two years as President, Susan developed a number of initiatives, including Transfer Pathways and improvements for veterans wishing to transfer to Shimer, the Shimer@60 program through which senior citizens 60 years of age or older can take a course at Shimer free of charge, and new scholarships. Last fall, Susan unveiled the Shimer College Strategic Plan for 2014-2017 and in the Spring began a Diversity Initiative project that will set ambitious goals for growth and mission-specific innovation.
Service and Partnerships
ACE Council of Fellows Executive Board
Federation of Illinois Colleges and Universities Executive Board
ACTC Open Doors Project
Board Member, Center on Halsted, Chicago, IL
For information about accreditation, see Facts and Figures.