Shimer College

November 07, 2013

It Was Forty Years Ago Today…

This Sunday, November 10, is a momentous day in Shimer history. It was on November 10, 1973, that the Board of Trustees called the Shimer community into the college auditorium on the second floor of Metcalf Hall, on the bucolic Shimer campus in rural Mount Carroll. Once everyone was seated, the Chairman of the Board and President delivered the sad and unexpected news that Shimer would be closing forever at the end of the fall semester – that is, a mere six weeks later.
The trustees had sound reasons for their decision. Shimer had accumulated some $500,000 in unpaid bills and owed an additional $2 million on physical facilities – in 1973 dollars. Student enrollment was declining, and it was unclear how the necessary money for Shimer’s continued survival could be procured. The students and faculty could have simply gone along with the Board’s decision and gotten on with their lives. But they didn’t. The entire campus immediately mobilized for action. Signs went up in the dormitories: 'Hell No, We Won't Go.' Faculty and students formed a steering committee to raise enough money to keep the college going, at least for another semester. It was a daunting task, but they were successful. It has been forty years since that day. Since then, Shimer has endured many other dramatic periods and events. There have been two moves of the entire campus, first to Waukegan and then to Chicago; there have been periods of plenty and periods of paucity. The journey has been epic, and the Shimer spirit has remained indomitable throughout. Lest we forget…