Back to Blog Posts

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

Posted by Chris Gruber on June 25, 2014

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


SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO—In 2014-2015, St. John’s College will mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Santa Fe campus.  It was a bold and visionary move to establish the campus, to offer its 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 the vision and generosity of city leaders like John Gaw Meem, who donated the land where the College was established, and others like Robert McKinney and Bud Kelly, the St. John’s Board of Visitors and Governors in Annapolis, voted unanimously to establish the Santa Fe campus in 1961. By September 1964, 88 members of the first freshmen class began the fall semester.

Throughout its fifty-year history, the Santa Fe campus has introduced many educational innovations such as the founding of the Graduate Institute and the creation of the Eastern Classics graduate program. Other important community-oriented programs established in Santa Fe include: the Summer Classics program, the Greek Institute, the Summer Academy for High School Students, Tecolote: a teacher-training program, and the newly established St. John's College Film Institute.     

Most importantly, the yearlong celebration is an opportunity to celebrate a key step in the story of St. John’s College and its connection to Santa Fe and New Mexico. With approximately 800 alumni living in Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico and an additional 400 alumni living throughout the state, the College’s educational, cultural, and intellectual impact is integral to the character and history of New Mexico. In addition, 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 with 450 undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled.

In addition to our yearly concerts and lectures, the 50th Anniversary includes notable events and programs.

  • 50th Anniversary Opening Reception on Friday, June 20th (Invitation Only).
  • St. John's will host its first national academic conference, “What is Liberal Education For?” on the campus October 16 through 18, 2014. Featured Speakers include internationally known St. John’s faculty Eva Braun 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 summer 2014
  • New York Times OP-ED Columnist and author, David Brooks, will be the featured speaker at our closing event on Friday, June 26, 2015. 


Updated information on the 50th Anniversary will be posted regularly on