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St. John’s College Celebrates 50 Years in Santa Fe

Originally Posted on cgruber, June 11, 2014

2014–2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Santa Fe campus of St. John’s College. Establishing the campus was a bold and visionary move—to offer St. John’s distinctive and in many ways radical academic program to more students, and to demonstrate conclusively that the St. John’s program has no geographic or cultural bounds.

With respect for the vision and gratitude for the generosity of such city leaders as Robert McKinney, Bud Kelly, and John Gaw Meem, who donated the land where the college was built, in 1961 the St. John’s Board of Visitors and Governors in Annapolis voted unanimously to establish the Santa Fe campus. In September 1964, the 88 members of the first freshmen class began the fall semester.

During its 50-year history, the Santa Fe campus has introduced many educational initiatives, including the founding of the Graduate Institute and the creation of the Eastern Classics master’s program. Other important community-oriented programs established in Santa Fe include Summer Classics, the Greek Institute, Summer Academy for High School Students, Tecolote (a program for educators), and the new St. John’s College Film Institute.

The year-long anniversary celebration honors a key turning point in the story of St. John’s College and its connection to Santa Fe and New Mexico. With its exceptional faculty, community programs, and over 1,200 alumni living in New Mexico, the college’s educational, cultural, and intellectual impact is integral to the character and history of our state. Recent marketing research approximates the college’s economic impact in Santa Fe as $21 million per year. The college currently employs 178 faculty and staff and enrolls 450 undergraduate and graduate students.

In addition to our yearly lectures, community seminars, and concerts, the 50th anniversary celebration will include signature events, programs, and projects:

  • “What is Liberal Education For?” St. John’s first national academic conference, will be held October 16–18, 2014. Featured speakers include internationally recognized St. John’s faculty Eva Brann and Peter Pesic, as well as scholars and noted academics from around the country. 
  • The 50th Anniversary Oral History Project will be unveiled in 2015.
  • Rational Animal, a digital magazine produced by St. John’s, will begin publishing in summer 2014.
  • New York Times OP-ED columnist and author David Brooks will be the featured speaker at the 50th anniversary closing event on Friday, June 26, 2015.

Information about the 50th anniversary will be added to the website regularly. Please visit us often throughout the year. 

"No man, who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward."
- Booker T. Washington