Shimer College

June 25, 2014

Frances Shimer Needs You

A letter from President of the Alumni Association Steve Zolno

To Our Shimer Alumni and Friends:

In 1853, Frances Shimer and Cinderella Gregory came west to the “frontier” of Northwestern Illinois to establish a newly chartered academy in the little town of Mount Carroll. They were visionaries who set the stage for creative thinking that remains the hallmark of Shimer College to this day. The school was unique in its time, including the fact that is was run by and for women. As the founders focused on their ideals, there were financial struggles right from the beginning. But they tirelessly pursued their vision for a school that would encourage students to think for themselves: the most important tool to confidently navigate life’s challenges.

Since then Shimer has had many significant celebrations—and struggles—and has survived both. The 1951 Shimer Alumni Newsletter asked former students to send in their support as the school planned its 100th anniversary celebration. In 1978, Shimer moved to Waukegan, where we celebrated our 150th anniversary, and then moved again in 2005 to Chicago. In 2010, the school, with the support of hundreds of you, successfully shook off an attempt to reverse its vision and, in 2012, we were fortunate enough to gain the dynamic leadership of Susan Henking as our President.

Today Shimer still needs the dedication and support of its friends to continue to thrive, now and into the future. In 2014, there are thousands of alumni who still consider themselves Shimerians due to the school’s innovative program that gave us confidence by showing us how, not what, to think, and respected our intelligence. Thus, the school remains an important part of many of us.

We now are inviting each of you to give back a little of what Shimer gave to you so that it may continue to pursue its unique vision. Shimer gave me confidence in myself and my abilities, and I intend to do everything that I can to return the favor. Hopefully, we will be the generation that is remembered for propelling Shimer successfully toward its 200th anniversary!

 There are at least three ways you can get involved:

  •  Reach out to others

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we have a brunch and book discussion every few months, but there are many other ways to reach out. Get together with Shimer alumni and friends in your area or form a peer group for a sporting event, attending a jazz club, or anything you like (but please keep it legal!) We need your help in contacting others and will provide contact information.

  •  Give generously

You can now sign up for a one-time or recurring donation to Shimer on our website. For Shimer to thrive its alums need to provide generous support as 25% of the school’s budget come from donations, almost all from alumni.  The easiest way to do this is to go to the “Support & Services” tab on any page of the Shimer website and click on  Give To Shimer. I scrolled down the page to make a recurring donation (I was the first to do this, and now some young alumni have joined me). You also can contact Mary Pat Barbarie, Director of Development, at (312) 235-3539.

  •  Contact high school and junior college counselors and students

We have many more brochures than students, so just ask for some. We also will provide talking points. I have attended some college fairs recently and had a good time telling students and counselors why Shimer is important to me.

Please let me know what you will do to support Shimer. I can be reached at or 510-655-9080. You can also contact Mary Pat Barbarie.



Steve Zolno

President, Shimer Alumni Association