In 1895 the soon-to-be-retiring Frances Shimer met with William Rainey Harper, the founding president of the University of Chicago, and created an affiliation between the two schools. That affiliation culminated in 1950 with the adoption of an integrated curriculum of original sources designed to further the development of skills of thought, speech, and writing. Created by Robert Maynard Hutchins during his tenure as president and, later, chancellor of the University of Chicago, the curriculum came to be known as the Hutchins Plan, an exemplary basis for lifelong learning.
In the 1970s Mount Carroll became increasingly isolated. Enrollment declined, and maintaining a relatively large campus became an enormous burden. In 1978 the College accepted a mayoral invitation to relocate to Waukegan in northeastern Illinois, thereby making its programs accessible to a larger population. In 2006 Shimer relocated once again, this time to Chicago, in order to make its unique academic programs still more widely available.