Stuart Derbyshire, Researcher and Academic, visited and wrote about Shimer for Spiked Online, "‘The worst college in America’? The Washington Monthly could not have got it more wrong, Shimer might just be the best." Read more here.
Some weeks ago, the new Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, was asked by a journalist why he had chosen a cabinet that was 50% women. His answer was short: “Because it’s 2015.”
In the few seconds of Trudeau’s answer, I heard a kind of “it’s about time” tone, as well as just a bit of puzzlement that the question even arose. On reflection, I also came to see his answer as a gentle rebuke to those who are passive in the face of the need for change. Trudeau made it happen. He did not wait for it to happen to him. He stood as if poised between reality and utopia, and grasped them both, pulling them together into a moment for his country and for his country’s future.
I chose to see his words – and his decision – as Shimerian in its bringing together of reality and utopia, bringing “what is” together with “what ought to be,” the conjoining of daily lives with our aspirations. Facing the practicalities of running a country, Trudeau refused to choose between ideals and logistics. He chose both. And he did so together with those who came before him as well as those who stand alongside him today.
What, I have come to ask myself, am I, are we, waiting for? Is my phrase “Shimer – somewhere between reality and utopia” serving us well – or serving to keep us stuck? Am I settling for the tension hidden in the phrase as though it is eternal and we are unchanging? Or, am I – are we—ready to identify the Shimer we must be because it is 2016.
Some of you will hear my question as about diversity, especially perhaps demographic diversity: gender parity, racial/ethnic diversity, and more. Some of you will hear this as about the tangled web of managerial and leadership roles at Shimer or the complex relation of educational mission with fiscal responsibility. The question might shape not only what we read together but why and how we read, what the focus of our conversation-based learning must take up, and who we must become.
All of you, I hope, will hear this as about the many accomplishments articulated in our recent annual report detailing the 10 years we have spent in Chicago. (If you have not received it, and would like to, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
So, as we enter another year together, I challenge each of us to identify the questions and actions we might take because it is 2016. Because it is 2016, and we are Shimer!
Happy New Year and best wishes for a wonderful 2016.