President of the College in Santa Fe
1160 Camino Cruz Blanca
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Mike Peters, president of St. John’s College, Santa Fe, grew up mainly in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. He was the oldest of three boys and son of a military man; he spent his freshman and sophomore years of high school in Turkey, where his father was stationed. As a child, Mr. Peters was interested in government, politics, and history.
Though he applied to and was accepted for admission at a liberal arts college, he chose to follow his father into the military and attend West Point. He served for over 27 years on active duty in the U.S. Army, including in the Vietnam War, the 1989 operation in Panama to oust the dictator, Manuel Noriega, and the first Gulf War. He spent a significant portion of his military career at West Point, on the faculty and ultimately as chief of staff. He also served as military attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and in other capacities related to the Soviet Union; he has lived in Russia and Germany and traveled throughout Europe, Asia, and Central America. After retiring from the Army at the rank of colonel, Mr. Peters served for nine years as executive vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, although he kept his eye on academia, a world he’d grown to treasure during his time at West Point.
He and his wife, Eleanor, moved to Santa Fe in 2005 so he could assume the presidency. Eleanor is an active community volunteer and potter; she often utilizes the pottery studio on the St. John’s campus. The Peters have two grown children and four grandchildren. Mr. Peters continues to be an avid reader with interests in American history and biographies of political figures. He cites War and Peace as the book on the St. John’s reading list to which he most closely relates, as well as the Greek historians Thucydides and Herodotus. He believes the St. John’s curriculum is a good match for, in his words, “anyone who wants to stretch themselves and learn to think well, to read deeply and broadly, to write cogently, and to speak coherently.” He considers these the essential skills of an educated person as well as skills that are critical in the workplace and in society as a whole.
“St. John’s is a true alternative in American higher education. It provides the foundation and wherewithal for whatever you decide to pursue in your life.”
- President Michael P. Peters
The desire to enter a community like St. John’s and commit to the rigorous program of study is “not solely the property of one socioeconomic class or one racial or ethnic group,” he said. “People who are serious about education for its own sake and for the skills they can derive from it are welcome at St. John’s and can prosper here, regardless of financial circumstance. St. John’s is a true alternative in American higher education. It doesn’t only train you for your first job—it provides the foundation and wherewithal for whatever you decide to pursue in your life. Adaptability is going to be one of the key attributes in the future economy, and a St. John’s education provides the ultimate in adaptability.”
President Peters' TedX Talk on Liberal Education