I bring you one the "most politically incorrect" colleges in the country, with less than 100 students, one of the highest rates of doctoral productivity in the US, and one of the most unusual mascots anywhere. A scrappy history, an unusual curriculum, and an unheard of egalitarian ethos make this an interesting story and I hope worthy of a Featured Article. With thanks for Finetooth and Miller17CU94 for the helpful reviews. --Nasty Housecat (talk) 02:29, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
I have replaced the Chicago Tribune link with a better one.
The second link works for me — the PDF does download, but does not always open in the browser. If this link is too unreliable, there is a different one available but a subscription is required. I prefer the free version, of course. Please advise if I need to change it.
SupportOppose pending revisionsMadcoverboy (talk) 19:33, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Unencyclopedic style: repetition of imprecise terms ("one of the oldest", "one of the smallest", "highly rated", "one of the highest rates"), editorializing ("rare in its day", thrived),
Note: This was addressed below.
Contorted historical review - repeated/redundant mention of Great Books program, undue weight and incongruous appropriation of IIT's architectural achievements as its own re: van der Rohe
Note: This was addressed below also.
Undue weight on academic requirements
I tightened up the language and trimmed the academic requirements, Great Books, and architecture discussions and underlined the fact that it is the IIT campus, of which Shimer is a part. Is this better? --Nasty Housecat (talk) 21:36, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Responses: Thank you for your comments. I have revised the lead per your suggestions and will work through the rest of the issues in the next day or so.
As you address issues, if you could respond underneath my bullets and strikeout that might simplify the discussion (unless some guideline has barred this practice). Several phrases or sentences in the lead still strike me as having undue weight, I think what is most notable about the college is its somewhat eccentric/unstable history and relocations, Great Books curriculum, as well as its small size coupled with unique form of governance - the lead does and should emphasize these. Madcoverboy (talk) 22:24, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
I can respond under your bullets (some prefer that one not). I believe that you must do the striking out, however. --Nasty Housecat (talk) 23:15, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
"Shimer has offered a study abroad program in Oxford, England since 1963 and a Weekend Program for working adults since 1981. A Teaching Fellows program offers graduate-level coursework for primary and secondary school teachers." - undue weight relative to coverage in the article itself
I removed the Teaching Fellows mention.
"Shimer has been called one of the most politically incorrect schools in the country by Insight magazine and one of the best buys in higher education by Barron's" - these distinctions, like rankings, are ephemeral, not particularly notable, and have no place in the lead
I removed them. I am wary of underweighting that section with too little mention here....
"one of the great figures of 20th-century architecture" - ultimately tangential to the substance of the article
I deleted it.
Imprecise and unsubstantiable characterization as "one of the oldest private educational institutions", "one of the first" junior colleges - contextualize
The "oldest private" characterization is drawn straightforwardly from the School and Society source. Not sure what to do with that one. I could quote it directly. Would that help?
If you look at my footnote in History of Northwestern University (part of which I copied in the female-only comment below), you'll note that there were a number of private institutions predating Shimer's 1852 foundation in Illinois, much less across the midwest. The slipperyness of the "one of the" modifier is why I keep pushing for more finite, quantifiable, or contextualized information. Madcoverboy (talk) 18:33, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
::::* The fact that there were other old schools does not belie the claim Shimer was not "one of" the oldest, which is what the source precisely claims. I am comforted in making the claim by the fact that FA university articles like Dartmouth College, Duke University, and Georgetown University, among others, make similar "one of the _____" claims repeatedly and apparently without ill effect. In my mind this claim is certainly relevant to the article and not all that controversial.
I deleted it.
I expanded the Junior College discussion to include William Rainey Harper's influence, which provides more context
Original name "Mount Carroll Seminary" never stated
It is in the middle of the second line. Should it be stated sooner?
Must have missed it.
Over-wikification of terms like "upstate New York" (what place specifically?), prairie,
The source for this was almost certainly referring to female high school attendance, which some other sources claim did not reach parity until the 1890s. But it is certainly debatable, and certainly not important for this article. I removed it and replaced it with a more pertinent quotation.
The female academies mentioned almost certainly were founded as secondary or finishing schools rather than degree-granting higher education institutions.
Unencyclopedic tone/style: "Money problems continued.", "still struggling for survival", "formed an even more intimate bond with the U. of C.", "much needed funds", "the school thrived", "Finally succumbing to bankruptcy",
Reworded all the above
Missing 30 years between 1920 and 1950 - some readers might be interested in how events like the Great Depression and World War II impacted the school
Added a paragraph on the 1930s and 40s
Any sense on how the War impacted enrollments, if students served in any notable capacities, if the school experienced a GI Bill surge?
There is no mention of such things in any of the history sources. The depression affected enrollment severely. The war, it seems, did not.
"The U. of C. connection ended in 1958" - why?
Expanded to included curriculum change and close bankruptcy call
"next two and one half decades" - a very ornate way of saying twenty-five years
Changed to plain old 25
"slowly made progress towards financial stability" - such as?
Changed to clarify that the enrollment growth and grant raising were the aforementioned progress
Loss of accreditation in 1980 should be foregrounded then rather than after regaining it
No mention whatsoever of Carnegie Classifications, accreditation, academic calendar, tuition/financial aid, honor societies
I believe all the Carnegie Classifications are addressed in the article. Did I miss something?
I'm not seeing it in the references, unless I've overlooked it (again). Also, the National Center for Education Statistics may have some important data that warrants incorporation re: retention and graduation rates. I'd prefer stats cited to this site if possible, rather than college guides as NCES likely a more reliable secondary source.
Are you asking me to cite the Carnegie Classifications specifically? Why? The information is already there and already sourced reliably.
I found one college FA that refers them, University of Michigan, which does so in the lead. I did the same here.
Accreditation is already addressed in the history section.
The retention and graduation rates are already sourced to NCES. See ref 134b.
I added tuition and financial aid to the admission section, following the model of other FAs.
There are no honor societies. In Student life it explains that all "exclusive" organizations are forbidden.
"When the University abandoned the program in the late 1950s, Shimer continued it, modified it, and made the program its own." - elaborate
I reorganized the paragraph so the text that follows explains this better
"Small seminars in which everyone learns from one another remain central to the Shimer education. This process of co-inquiry applies across the curriculum and even natural sciences are taught via discussion." - short of further elaboration, this is peacockish and empty
Moved the co-inquiry mention later, so it is clear the quote explains it
The whole section really reviews and emphasizes the Great Books program quite haphazardly by reviewing history, interspersed with different quotes characterizing and motivating it in different ways. Much cleanup and condensation needed.
I have revised and reorganized the section. It should be cleaner and clearer now.
I also added a hatnote line to Great Books for a fuller discussion than the necessarily brief summary here.
93% of 13 faculty is 12 faculty. Roughly a third of the faculty is 4. Use of statistics to characterize a population isn't really appropriate if the population is less than 20.
Changed to use raw numbers
What is the Weekend Program and why does it appear suddenly? Quote seems boosterish, regardless.
Weekend Program is not explained until later, so I removed it.
As before, it seems that the article unfairly co-opts a bit of IIT's campus history/prestige while providing little background on its previous campus(es) such as Waukegan
Revised as before.
Is there any information on its Mt. Carrol campus? Indeed, it's unclear to me whether the "merger" with UChicago implied a move to its campus, an administrative affiliation, or something else altogether. I guess this is really two questions: (1) how many campuses has it had?, which should be addressed in the campus section and (2) what was the proximate impact of the UChicago merger re: campus, administration, etc.?, which should be addressed in the history section. It's only clear that Shimer became affiliated with the Baptist church, Shimer retired, and it became a junior college. Furthermore, what has became of the Waukegan campus? Do they remain investment assets, were they liquidated to fund an endowment or payments to IIT, are they private faculty residences, etc.?
The Waukegan campus -- such as it was -- is summarized in the history and campus sections. More detail on that and the Mt. Carrol campus belong in the main History of Shimer College article, I think.
As the article states, the U. of C. relationship was an affiliation, not a merger. I added an explanatory footnote. More detail probably belongs in the main history article.
I added the endowment to the infobox, follow the practice of other FAs.
Given the interesting fundraising/fiscal history, I'd like to see a bit more on previous or ongoing campaigns and support.
Fair point, but there is really nothing more to share there. There are no public fund raising numbers that I have seen. As the history suggests, fund raising is not really their forte.
Relationship with IIT discussed in more depth
The relationship is discussed in Student Life, and there is not much more to it than that. They lease the space and students can co-register and participate in activities if they like. Would it make more sense here than there?
I'd like to know more of the back story about the permanence of the Waukegan arrangement or if an on-going search for a more permanent campus existed. What prompted the IIT invitation or Shimer acceptance over any number of other institutions throughout Chicago? What are the terms of the lease with IIT re: payment, duration? If Shimer students are represented in the IIT student body, presumably they pay some fee to IIT? To what extent do Shimer faculty have a voice in IIT faculty or administration decisions?
The reason Shimer accepted is explained in the sentence beginning "Then president William Craig Rice...."
I don't understand how this quote is pertinent.
Sorry. Didn't realize there are two. I meant this one: Then president William Craig Rice believed that the new location would offer "access to a wider pool of students and benefactors," as well as expanded student services (such as dining and athletic facilities) and opportunities to cooperate academically with IIT.
The terms of the lease are not disclosed in any source, beyond saying that it is "long term."
There are fees included in the tuition, but they are all payable to Shimer, not to IIT
There is no evidence that Shimer faculty have any voice in the administration of IIT. Again, Shimer is a tenant with access to student activities and cross-registration.
Perhaps a sentence then clarifying that Shimer has a long term tenancy agreement or something to that effect?
I added it to the History section, where the relationship first comes up. Seems to fit best there.
Quoting an imprecise generalization ("One of the smallest liberal arts colleges in the United States") doesn't make it better.
Here is the dilemma: While at 70 full-time students, Shimer is undoubtedly one of the smallest, there is no real effort given to ranking by size at the low end of the scale. Those sources that do place it somewhere in the bottom three, but I am not confident they are up to WP:RS. At the same time, it's smallness is one of its most notable and distinguishing features, especially pertaining to student life. It is hard to find a source that does not mention how small it is in the first paragraph. So not to mention it here would be hard to justify. My suggested solution is to cite the NYT as the source for the claim. Used in this context, where it is describing student life and not attempting to establish any quantitative fact, I think that solves the problem. Do you agree?
I'm uneasy with it given my aforementioned qualms with the slipperyness of the qualifier, but I'll let it stand. However, a point is made of referencing "Shimer's unconventional atmosphere", though this is not entirely fleshed out. It's certainly small, has an unconventional curriculum, and attracts unique students, but I wonder if it would be possible to explicate the "unconventionalness" of it in a neutral and verifiable way. MIT, Texas A&M, Caltech, etc. all come to mind with definitively unconventional traditions apart from the spring bacchanals, various incarnations of streaking, sports chants, self-important newspapers, lame acapella groups, property defacement at rival schools, etc. that pass as unique traditions and student life at most universities. What Breakfast Club clique would be the Shimer stereotype, etc.?
::::* Is the explication here not neutral or verifiable? I simply quoted it from a reliable source. There are no real standout traditions that make the place different. The smallness, the curriculum, and the radically egalitarian ethos are what is truly unconventional about this place, which hopefully the rest of the article makes clear. At the same time, potluck meals to which the whole place shows up and lame talent shows as a cultural highlight in my mind do serve as good illustrations of what make this place not normal.
Perhaps you can help me understand this one better. Of the 18 citations in the section, 7 are to Shimer sources, 2 are to IIT sources, and 9 are to newspapers, books, and third-party websites. Is there something in the Shimer sources that you feel is "unduly self-serving"?
"Students who "have not found personal satisfaction in more standard educational settings ... often flourish in Shimer’s unconventional atmosphere."" Cited to the course catalog.
That's fair. I replaced it with a better quote from the NYT article.
Role of students in IIT student government should be moved to governance
"US Congressman" is imprecise: representative or senator? what district?
Expanded. Found a link, too.
"Pulitzer Prize nominated" needs a hypen, I believe
I believe I have addressed all of your concerns at this point and will wait for your strikes or replies. --Nasty Housecat (talk) 00:38, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
Will get to it, just had some unexpected guests in town! Madcoverboy (talk) 04:39, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
Thank you Madcoverboy for your thorough comments and your support. --Nasty Housecat (talk) 15:24, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Comment The whole yyyy-mm-dd has inconsistencies in hyphens and ndashes. Secondly at least one ref is tagged as publisher=Shimer without the college. —Preceding unsigned comment added by YellowMonkey (talk • contribs)
Ran dash script again, fixed the rest I saw by hand.
Ref 95: Washington Monthly should be italicised. Use "cite journal" template with "journal= Washington Monthly". The table in the source does indeed show Shimer as third in the rankings for progressions to Ph D, but 252nd for contribution to socisl mobility, and 245th for "encouraging students to give something back to their country", with an overall national ranking of 82nd. Are these less positive facts reflected in the article?
Fixed the italics. The overall WM ranking of 82 is in the article and the rankings infobox, as well.
Chicago Tribune: ref 1 = "subscription required", refs 25 and subsequently = "fee required"
Same inconsistenct with Chicago Sun-Times - see refs 30 and 37
Question: The "fee required" sources can be purchased individually. The "subscription required" sources cannot — they require a full-blown subscription. This may be putting precision over consistency. What is the best practice?
My own practice would be to use one format - the distinction isn't enough to require a distinction. But I'll leave that to you. Brianboulton (talk) 19:10, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
Ref 99: The Waukegan News-Sun should be italicised
Ref 111: Inland Architect should be italicised
Ref 131 Publisher information lacking
Ref 145 (Dowty) wrongly formatted, lacks publisher information
All of the above are corrected now. Thanks.
I also share a general concern, expressed above, about the high proportion of references related to the college itself.
Question: While I have tried hard to avoid the impression of over reliance on school sources, it may not have worked as well as I hoped. Of the 154 references, 32 are school published. Is there some section(s) where the proportion seems especially unbalanced that need more attention?
Thank you for your comments. My replies are above. --Nasty Housecat (talk) 16:39, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
Note: I have replaced an additional 12 citations to school-published sources with third-party sources. --Nasty Housecat (talk) 03:05, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
Support. I peer-reviewed this in late June and thought it was ready for FAC. Changes since then have only made it better. The article presents a highly readable and comprehensive view of a most unusual small college, and it appears that the concerns of the other reviewers above have been addressed. Finetooth (talk) 04:32, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
Media What is the origin of the two non-free logos? Fasach Nua (talk) 18:07, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for looking at them. The image files were provided by the college on my request. The seal is an SVG trace that I did myself with Inkscape. I made a note in the image source fields, for lack of a better idea. Is there a better way to do it? -Nasty Housecat (talk) 20:10, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
I was interested in the publication date, we may be able to get them onto a free license, compatiable with wp gfdl Fasach Nua (talk) 20:54, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
Ah, I see. The school did not take its current name until 1950, so the seal was certainly not in use before then. The "Great Books College of Chicago" tagline in the logo was not adopted until 2009, so the logo was published within the past year. The school shared the files for use here with no indication that they would licence them freely. There are no free versions available that I am aware of. -Nasty Housecat (talk) 00:20, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
Support. Amazing work by Nasty Housecat! I was involved in this article at a much more primitive level, and the improvements have been phenomenal. -- Visviva (talk) 16:12, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Support - A very enjoyable (and odd) read. Brilliant. One nitpick, the portals box should probably be moved or re-formatted; it's rather unsightly. ceranthor 01:57, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Thank you Ceranthor. I moved the portals box to External links.--Nasty Housecat (talk) 15:24, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
This is an extraordinary claim "Shimer practices democratic self-governance to "an extent that is rare among institutions of higher education."" and needs to either be sourced to a non self-published source (the university catalog) or be explicitly explained that this is how Shimer classifies itself.
There is at least two sentences (in admission and student life) where the entire sentence is a quote - no lead in, nothing. This is not good prose. Quotations are used liberally throughout the article for regular information. Why can't more of this be paraphrased? At the very least, we need to be attributing the quotations to who said them in many instances.
Frances Shimer retired, never to set foot on campus again; - a detail like this begs further explanation; why did she not do so?
The college suffered a severe decline in enrollment and severe financial hardship during the Great Depression - two "severes" so close together probably isn't good. Perhaps the second could be "significant"? Or some other synonym?
Shimer is one of four Great Books in the US - four Great Books whats?
The basic integrative studies courses teach the fundamental skills in close reading and argumentation required to work with original source texts in the first course and teach logic and mathematics in the second through the study of geometry and axiomatic systems in ancient and modern times. - this is a very long sentence with nary a comma, semi-colon, dash, or other punctuation mark to be seen. Perhaps some pity on the reader?
and may include an oral component, as well - on the other hand, the comma here is probably not necessary.
"weekend students have been known to commute from as far as Florida and New York." - there's really no need to quote this, especially as it's not attributed to anyone. Paraphrasing would be better.
"but they counsel candidates closely to reduce frivolous applications." - same comment as above.
"one of the great figures of 20th-century architecture" - same as above, but in this case you'd likely be better to actually quote someone notable saying that - e.g. "described by X as one of the great..."
"the last representative of the Prairie School of landscape architects." - same as above, but this could also be attributed.
Institute of Gas Technology Complex - should Complex be capitalized?
Shimer claims to be - see WP:WTW. "Shimer states it is" would be better.
Buchanan, also a professional actor and director, directs productions that complemebt the curriculum and offer anyone who wants to participate in theater the chance to do so." - I assume that's "complement". Also, is that a stray quotation mark at the end, or was something supposed to be quoted?
Overall, a well-written, well-sourced article about an interesting institution. I think it would be improved by addressing the issues raised, and in general it would be helped by more paraphrasing or attribution of quotations (beyond the specific ones mentioned above). I know from personal experience how hard the latter can sometimes be, but I think the end result is worth the effort. Jayjg(talk) 02:32, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for your helpful comments. I have addressed all of the issues identified and paraphrased and/or attributed quite a few more quoted passages.