Shimer College

September 20, 2013

President Henking is Inaugurated as the 14th President of Shimer College

In First Year of Presidency, Focuses on Diversity and Visibility

Chicago,IL–Dr. Susan Henking is inaugurated on September 20, 2013 as 14th President of Shimer College. The inauguration takes place about a year after Dr. Henking took office, succeeding Ed Noonan who had been Interim President since 2010. 

Nancy Nickel, President of the Shimer College Alumni Association said, “Is it possible, do you think, for a building to hold its breath? If so, then in concert with the students, faculty, staff, board of trustees, and alumni, the very walls of Shimer College breathed a sigh of relief when Susan Henking was elected president. Our small but mighty college had been tested down to its foundation, but in Susan’s election, we found reason to hope.”

Sally Brown, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Shimer College said, “This year has confirmed what we already knew when she agreed to become executive officer: that Susan’s leadership will take Shimer far. She knows how to listen and to lead resolutely–and does both with her particular brand of quirky humor.”

Dr. 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.

Dr. Henking 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.

In her first year, Dr. Henking has implemented a number of initiatives, including the Shimer@60 program through which senior citizens 60 years of age or older can take a course at Shimer free of charge, and the redesign of the Shimer College website. Two more new programs are coming down the pike. Beginning next January, a  scholarship for community college transfer students will become available. And plans are underway for a summer college prep program that will help high school students build solid writing and self-expression skills.

Located minutes from the Loop in Chicago, Shimer College is an independent, four-year liberal arts college that enrolls less than 150 students. Founded in 1853 as the Mount Carroll Seminary, Shimer today provides a comprehensive, regularly-reviewed core curriculum that brings foundational books of the liberal arts to bear on the pressing problems of our time. Shimer College is committed to a primary-source, textbook-free curriculum, seminars of twelve or fewer students, and an ethos of community and service within a diverse group of students, teachers, scholars, and staff.



See photos from the Inauguration