Shimer president steps down

By Stephanie Saviola

A large majority of the student body and faculty at Shimer College, a small, private liberal arts college, was at odds with their president, Thomas Lindsay, for more than a year.

However, recent events have led Lindsay to step down from his position at the college.

As reported in The Chronicle on April 12, students expressed their dismay with Lindsay when he skipped proper steps that were normally used to make decisions at the college, such as not consulting the assembly of the college before making changes regarding faculty members and changing the school’s mission statement.

According to Aaron Garland, director of communications, Lindsay stepped down after a board of trustees meeting on April 19. Lindsay took his position at the college in January 2009.

All board members were present with the exception of Lindsay, according to Albert B. Fernandez, senior faculty trustee and speaker of the assembly. Eighteen board members voted to remove Lindsay, while 16 voted for Lindsay to retain his position as president of the college.

Fernandez also stated Lindsay was asked to be present at the meeting to answer questions even though he could not participate in the vote. Lindsay instead sent an e-mail stating he would accept the decision of the board one way or another.

“I think it is significant that [Lindsay] did not come to the meeting,”

Fernandez said.

Chairman of the Board Christopher Nelson said in a statement released April 20, “We are grateful to Tom Lindsay for his financial leadership over the past year and a half and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

According to Fernandez, Lindsay’s message was read by the chair of the board of trustees and the vote ballots were counted by inde-

pendent auditors.

“There was a lot of attention in protecting the integrity of the vote and in making sure everyone was present,” Fernandez said. “[The process] had been exceptionally careful

and controlled.”

The night before the board meeting an emergency session was held by the assembly of the school in which they had a vote of no confidence in Lindsay.

According to Bill Arnold, a 2006 graduate of Shimer, these votes came in conjunction with a petition that circulated, filled with signatures of current students, faculty, alumni and friends of Shimer showing their opposition to Lindsay.

Lindsay was heavily criticized during his 15 months at the college by many students for going against the grain of how the college was previously run.

“It’s unfortunate that the situation had to be resolved this way, but we’re grateful that the community came together so strongly to defend itself,” said Nate Lefebvre, a member of the Shimer Alumni Alliance. “Now we’re all looking forward to working together to get past this and make Shimer

even stronger.”

After the meeting, Fernandez said the board proceeded to elect interim president Edward Noonan, a former chairman of the board of the trustees and a graduate

of Shimer.

“We are letting Edward get into place and help us move forward,” Garland said. “Then the board will be looking at what the process would look like in the search [for a

new president].”

Lindsay could not be reached for comment.

While Lindsay seemed to be the source of many problems at Shimer, Fernandez said the board of trustees remains divided as it was reflected in final votes on

Lindsay’s position.

“There are two parties [on the board],” Fernandez said. “There is one party I call the constitutional party and the other, the executive party.”

Fernandez also said the board agreed to postpone its next meeting and will not participate in Shimer’s commencement in May.

“The feeling is, there would be too much tension and we don’t want to compromise the experience of graduating students,” Fernandez said. “That shows how heated and passionate the conflict has been.”

According to Garland, at the moment it is uncertain how long it will take to find a new president.

“I am looking forward to helping an institution with such a unique and noble educational mission,” Noonan said in a statement.