Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lindsay Faction Rewards Itself

After former President Thomas Lindsay was fired last year, members of his Board faction sued particular members of Shimer's Board and Shimer College at large for what they dubbed Thomas Lindsay's "illegal termination." Since then, the ridiculous allegations led to an out-of-court settlement, the Lindsay faction resigned and seven financially powerful, Shimer-supporting alumni joined the Board. After a battle that successfully preserved our college and strengthened our Board's capacity to effectively manage financial affairs, Shimer has enjoyed a secure and positive atmosphere.

After everything settled down, we didn't hear much from the other side. But on Thursday, the infamous Joe Bast, President of a libertarian think-tank, recently covered the Lindsay faction's self-congratulation party on his blog. Former Lindsay-supporting Board members, along with Lindsay and formerly anonymous donor Barre Seid himself, attended the event. The group celebrated their hard-fought effort, talked about the future of "liberal education," and even awarded themselves crystal-glass trophies.

Inconsequential (and humorous) as the gathering may be, there's something interesting about how Bast discussed the anonymous donor's role. "As always, the anonymous donor was at turns thoughtful and entertaining, thanking us for taking on a task we all knew would be difficult, but explaining that all great achievements faced high risks of failure," Bast reported.

Hm. Thomas Lindsay and his followers repeatedly claimed that there was no conspiracy, that Seid was a supporter of Shimer College, and that each Lindsay supporter was genuinely acting, not with a predetermined agenda, but for the goal of a thriving Shimer. So why would the anonymous donor feel the need to "thank" them for "taking on" this task?

There's no way to be sure, but it's probably because Lindsay supporters were lying. There is plenty of support for the theory that the anonymous donor, Barre Seid, became involved with Shimer long ago with premeditated intentions to transform it into a libertarian institute. After all, Seid predominately funds right-wing and libertarian organizations, including the ones to which the Lindsay-supporting board members belong. Seid also paid the Board entrance fees of nearly the entire Lindsay faction. And most memorably, Seid's close friend and former Lindsay-supporting trustee Patrick Parker used threats of Seid's fiscal withdrawal to advance Lindsay's objectives on more than one occasion.

Here's the point: it's likely that Barre Seid did indeed play a premeditated, highly influential role in last year's attempted coup. There is lengthy documentation to support this theory. Bast's account can be added to the list.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Let's Respond to Joe Bast's Article Positively

Shimer Trustee and President Lindsay supporter Joe Bast recently raised his voice, once again, to misrepresent and disrespect Shimer College and its people. As usual, his narrative paints Lindsay as Shimer's savior and Shimer's people as hotheaded, politically-homogenous idiots. Bast's understanding is that Lindsay was unquestionably successful in his large-scale "reforms" of Shimer College and that his opposition was nothing but simple-minded stubbornness. Following down the path he started after his infamous meeting with students, Bast reaches new lows in attacking the academic credibility and general character of Shimer's supporters -- those who, unlike Bast, are contributing positively and productively to Shimer College in sentimental, tangible, and financial ways.

Bast's article isn't worthy of any thorough critique. His positions are illegitimate and unsubstantiated, marked by the same lethal combination of ignorance and arrogance that has fueled the attack on our beloved and dynamic school. Perhaps most striking is his contention that Shimer lacks academic credibility, something that runs completely contrary to any Accreditation Report of which I am aware, or any report on the success of our graduates. Most offensive among the insults to Shimer's strong academics may be the fact that at the Board Meeting, not only did Dean Shiner have to sit through Bast's completely false allegation that Shiner received his Doctorate from a "Diploma-Mill," but seven trustees also voted (unsuccessfully) to revoke the Class of 2010's degrees on the grounds that the "campaign against Tom Lindsay" was "an attempt to hide the deficiencies in the quality of education being delivered by Shimer." A tragically ironic jab is Bast's allegation of Trustee and Alumnus Daniel Shiner's conflict of interest, simply by virtue of his kinship to Dean David Shiner. The irony of this is apparent to anyone who has studied the undisclosed fiscal connections between several destructive Trustees, including Bast, and the Anonymous Donor.

Bast's words are deplorable and do a disservice to the many people who work so hard to make Shimer the amazing place that it is. It is understandable for us to respond to his insults with frustration and anger. But are we really surprised by Bast's depiction of our school and its current situation? Do we expect from him, given his record, anything other than slander and insult to the people that work so hard to preserve the College that we know and love? Bast's article, let's not forget, contains the most laughable lie since the supposed free pizza that lured us salivating dogs to vote "No Confidence": that all classes were supposedly cancelled for a day in celebration of Lindsay's resignation. Bast does not know or understand Shimer College, nor the people he targets. Attacks directed at both our academic credibility and strong supporters of our school just illustrate his ignorance.

Instead of expressing hatred towards Bast, let's direct that energy towards reaffirming our appreciation for those who are under his crosshairs and those working so hard to repair the damage that he and his cohorts have caused. Joe Bast isn't going to dialogue with any of us students, nor will he contribute positively to our experience at Shimer. Let's allow his words to be forgotten and instead concentrate on people who make tremendous sacrifices to make Shimer thrive. Personally, my support for our Faculty, staff, and hard-working Trustees is not "blind," as Bast claims. I support Trustee Daniel Shiner for spearheading a frantic and challenging search that yielded 6 highly qualified nominees to the Board -- and his words of support and humor when things looked their worst. I support Dean David Shiner not (solely) for his (legitimate) Doctoral Diploma, but for the extra hours he has dedicated to our school during this time of crisis, trudging through adversities I couldn't imagine shouldering in his position -- and for the fact that he treated me with respect and knew my name before I had attended my first class. I support Marc Hoffman, whose arm I had to twist for two hours today just to take a break from preparing the College's defense and eat something. I support our second-longest-working Faculty Member, Eileen Buchanan, who, while battling cancer and after undergoing chemotherapy, is enthusiastically planning her return to Shimer classrooms this Fall and gives me a joyful hug every time I see her.

Joe Bast hasn't taken the time to get to know these people and the many others who keep Shimer's doors open, or ever come close to fathoming the amount of blood, sweat, and tears they've poured into this organization. He hasn't even taken the time to learn enough of Shimer's history to construct a mildly legitimate argument concerning the issues facing our little College, or an understanding of what makes it so special to us. And that's his loss.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just When You Thought It Was Coming to a Close...

...ideologues force you to think again!

Once again drawing from unofficial sources, I have this news to report from today's meeting of Shimer's Board of Trustees:

  • Lawyers representing former President Thomas Lindsay and former trustee Patrick Parker filed suit against Shimer College, its Board of Trustees, today-reelected Chair Christopher Nelson, Faculty Trustees Albert Fernandez and Steven Werlin, Trustee and Alumnus Daniel Shiner, and Interim President Edward Noonan. The suit calls for the reinstatement of Thomas Lindsay as President of Shimer College.
  • While Christopher Nelson was reelected as Chair of the Board, Trustees Barry Carroll, Mary-Lou Kennedy, and Patrick Parker were not reelected.
  • Marc Hoffman, Shimer's CFO and Adjunct Faculty member was seated on the Board by virtue of his position as Assistant Treasurer.
  • Seven Trustees voted against awarding degrees to the entire class of 2010.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Three Cronies Resign

Unofficial reports indicate that 3 trustees of the so-called "Executive Party" -- the party that voted to change the Mission statement, as opposed to the so-called "Constitutional Party," who vote in support of Shimer's people and Constitution -- have resigned from Shimer's Board of Trustees. The identities have yet to be confirmed, but there is strong likelihood that Carson Holloway, Matt Franck, and Frank Buckley could be the three.

All three trustees, if resigned, would be remembered for their willful ignorance of Shimer's identity and history as well as their disrespect for Shimer's Assembly and students. Their blind support for President Lindsay and his agenda stalled genuine dialog and cooperation, contributing to an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear. I wish them the best of luck pursuing their interests elsewhere, but hope that unlike at Shimer, their doing so does not trample on the productivity and livelihood of others.

UPDATE 5/28/10: Contrary to previous speculation, Frank Buckley remains on the Board of Trustees, but Matt Franck and Carson Holloway did indeed resign. The third member who resigned was Claudia Allums -- another supporter of President Lindsay. An updated list of Shimer's Board of Trustees can be viewed here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coverage of Our Victory

Keep us posted as you see more media attention pop up!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Today, in the most significant moment of Shimer's history since its relocation to Chicago, Shimer College's Board of Trustees 'ousted' President Thomas Lindsay, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

The announcement was first released by the National Association of Scholars (NAS), best known by the Shimer community for its glowing defense of Lindsay. They posted a brief report shortly after the Board of Trustees held an unannounced meeting this afternoon.

Chronicle writer Don Troop wrote that the board "fired" Lindsay and the NAS wrote that the Board "voted to dismiss" Lindsay. In contrast, Shimer's Office of Advancement issued a press release reporting that Lindsay "stepped down" from his position. So far, the details on the meeting to answer this ambiguity remain undisclosed.

The vote followed months of bitter conflict between Shimer's community and President Lindsay and his supporters. During the past week, following a growing petition demonstrating a widespread desire for Lindsay to resign, the Shimer community promulgated its lack of support for Lindsay loud and clear with votes of no confidence from both the Faculty and Shimer's Assembly and a call for resignation from the directors of Shimer's Alumni Association.

Trustee Emeritus Ed Noonan, long-time Shimer supporter, will serve as interim President for the time being. Noonan is widely supported by the Shimer community.

For those of you that know your Shimer folklore: Ding, dong. Ding, dong.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Assembly Votes No Confidence

And finally, Shimer College's Assembly (made up of students, faculty, staff, and trustees if they choose to vote) removed from the table the resolution of no confidence in President Lindsay and it passed. Voted by secret ballot, with 60 votes for, 0 votes against, and 3 abstentions, here is the resolution (as amended):

Whereas the Presidency of Thomas Lindsay has imperiled the very existence of the College, the Assembly declares that it has no confidence in the ability of President Lindsay to lead Shimer College.
Let's all take a deep breath and cross our fingers.