March 29, 2004
William Craig Rice named 12th President of Shimer College
The Board of Trustees of Shimer College has selected William Craig Rice, Director of Education and Assessment at the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) in Washington, D.C, to be its 12th President. Rice will succeed Don P. Moon, who will step down on May 1, 2004 after 26 years as President to return to teaching and serve as Director of Shimer College’s Hutchins Institute. Rice will be formally installed as the 12th President of Shimer College at Fall Convocation on Saturday, October 16, 2004.
Roy Landstrom, Chairman of the Shimer Board of Trustees, called Bill Rice 'an outstanding leader in the field of education, who is fully committed to the values of the liberal arts, especially as they are found in the Great Books based program taught at Shimer College. The entire Shimer community enthusiastically welcomes Bill as our next President, and we look forward to his leadership and vision in directing Shimer's continuing contributions to Higher Education today and into the future.'
Rice comes to the Presidency with a deep commitment to undergraduate education, particularly in the Great Books tradition. He has a firm understanding of the important role that small experimental colleges such as Shimer have in higher education in America today. His professional career exemplifies the versatility and commitment to interdisciplinary study that defines a Shimer education. Although he has spent most of his career in research universities, his attention has centered on small-scale undergraduate teaching, mainly in intriguing topic-based writing seminars.
Shimer’s next President looks forward to the opportunity 'to help carry forward the Hutchins Plan in the classroom, as a continuing student of the Great Books tradition.' Rice remarks, 'I have always thought my talents would fit best in a small liberal arts college, especially one like Shimer with its tradition of discussion-based pedagogy and close study of the history of ideas, the achievement of science, masterpieces of imaginative literature, and the arts.' He adds that he sees 'national significance in Shimer’s new Hutchins Institute for schoolteachers. Here teachers can actually learn the subjects they teach, and at a level of rigor unheard of elsewhere. This is hands-on education reform.'
Rice studied English and American literature at the University of Virginia, taught for several years, then went on to earn an M.F.A. in 1988 and Ph.D. in 1991 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He spent most of the next decade teaching writing at Harvard University and also served as a visiting fellow at Johns Hopkins University before joining the AALE staff three years ago. He has been involved in teaching, research, and administration for most of his professional career, but he has also worked as an auto mechanic, antiques salesman, and consultant to foundations.
Rice is the author of Public Discourse & Academic Inquiry, a study of the sociology of knowledge with emphasis on rhetoric, stylistics, and audiences. He is a published poet and fiction writer, and he has written numerous scholarly articles and essays examining subjects ranging from teaching poetic forms in the classroom, the role of the arts in society, collaborative learning, and charter schools. He has also edited and reviewed many books and articles, and has made a number of TV and radio appearances.
In addition to his other achievements, Rice is an accomplished teacher. He taught at Webb School, Bell Buckle, in the 1970s, Temple University and the University of Michigan in the 1980s, and Harvard University (1992-2001), receiving teaching awards from each of those institutions. As the principal designer and later director of the Freedom Project for the John Templeton Foundation, he recruited faculty to teach sponsored courses at Duke University, Boston University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Bill comes to this Presidency with a strong commitment to the values of small liberal arts colleges, especially those that are experimental in nature and at odds with prevailing practice. In this he follows in his family’s footsteps. His great-grandfather and great uncle served as presidents of pioneering liberal arts colleges, and his grandfather founded Black Mountain College, a center of the avant garde, in 1933. “I am positively Japanese in my ancestor worship,' Bill observes. Rice’s appointment is the culmination of a six-month effort by a search committee consisting of current students, faculty, administrators, and current and past members of the Board of Trustees. His arrival on campus on May 1st is anticipated with great enthusiasm.
Rice is married to Carolina Agravante Reyes, a realist painter of urban landscapes, shipping wharfs, and highways. Carolina and Bill have a 4-year old daughter, Annabelle.