Francis Joseph Mullin
Recondite 67 27 mullin cropped

Full name

Francis Joseph Mullin

Alternative names

F. Joseph Mullin, F.J. Mullin, Joe Mullin

Presence at Shimer



Great Books period staff

Francis Joseph Mullin (1906-1997), also often known as F.J. Mullin or Joe Mullin, was the seventh president of Shimer College.

From 1936 to 1938 Mullin was on the faculty of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Mullin served as a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago from 1939 to 1951, as well as serving as dean of students at the medical school for part of this time. He also served as dean of the faculties and professor of physiology at Chicago Medical School from 1951 to 1954.[1]

In 1954 he assumed the presidency of Shimer College, then located in Mount Carroll, Illinois. Shimer had adopted a four-year Great Books curriculum in 1950. Mullin sought to build "a community of scholars where intellectual inquiry is the highest value".[2] The college at the time had extremely low levels of fundraising, due in part to its previous history as a junior college.[3] Mullin tripled fundraising to approximately $150,000 per year,[2][4] but nonetheless the college faced insolvency in the summer of 1956. By recruiting General Motors executive Nelson Dezendorf as a donor and trustee, Mullin was able to keep the college open.

In 1966, an internal struggle broke out within Shimer that subsequently became known as the "Grotesque Internecine Struggle". A group of dissident faculty, led initially by Dean David W. Weiser, complained that Mullin did not share the governance of the college sufficiently. With the support of the Board, Mullin prevailed, but this led to the loss of a large number of students and faculty. Mullin tendered his resignation in 1967, and retired in August 1968.[1][5] Copy and transcription of resignation notice.

Mullin and his wife, Alma Hill Mullin, had two sons.[1] One of them was Mark Mullin, who authored a memoir including reminiscences of his father, entitled The Headmaster's Run (ISBN 1578866545).


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "F. Joseph Mullin". Chicago Tribune. 1997-02-18. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Among colleges and universities professing to teach students how to think, little Shimer, 128 miles north-west of Chicago, succeeds like almost no place else.". Chicago Tribune. 1965-07-25. 
  3. Harold Henderson (1988-06-16). "Big Ideas: Tiny Shimer College has survived for 135 years on great books, high hopes, and very little money.". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2010-04-16. 
  4. "Colleges: Unknown, Unsung & Unusual". Time. 1963-04-19.,9171,830138,00.html. 
  5. "Mullin Quits as Shimer Head". Chicago Tribune: p. 5. 1967-11-12. 

See alsoEdit

This page is part of the Shimer College Wiki, an independent documentation project. Shimer College, the Great Books college of Chicago, is not responsible for its content.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.