Nora Demleitner, appointed by the Board of Visitors and Governors of St. John’s College in September 2021, began her tenure as president of the college’s Annapolis campus this January. She is St. John’s first female president, the 25th Annapolis president in the college’s 325-year history, and the ninth since the inception of the current Program of study in 1937.
Demleitner, formerly Roy L. Steinheimer Jr. Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law and dean of the law schools at Hofstra and Washington and Lee, came to the U.S. from Germany in search of a small college that offered a broad liberal arts education. After receiving a B.A. in American Studies from Bates College, she received her J.D. from Yale and her LL.M. from Georgetown in international and comparative law.
An expert on criminal justice issues, including sentencing guidelines, she is an editor of the Federal Sentencing Reporter and served on the editorial board of the American Journal of Comparative Law. Demleitner has published extensively, and her articles have appeared in the Stanford Law Review, The Conversation, and the Washington Post. She was also the lead author of Sentencing Law and Policy, a major casebook in the field.
Throughout her leadership career, Demleitner has exhibited the ability to increase educational access, grow fundraising and institutional support, and uphold educational rigor. As dean of Washington and Lee, Demleitner raised more than $17 million for the university-wide capital campaign, helping the law school surpass its goal. She also significantly increased the diversity of the law school’s faculty, staff, and student body, and dramatically improved employment statistics for graduates. At Hofstra, Demleitner increased enrollment of the JD-MBA program by more than 300 percent, co-led the university’s five-year strategic planning process, and reinvigorated international recruitment.
Demleitner said she was drawn to St. John’s rigorous practice of reasoned inquiry and dialogue as a means of getting at truth and understanding.
“There are few places left in America where people focus on actively listening to one another and the institutional culture reinforces openness to new ideas and perspectives. Most rare is a place where one is academically respected for changing one’s thinking in light of better arguments and reasoning,” said Demleitner. “St. John’s College gives me hope for a future in which real, deep, respectful dialogue can again play a central role in our pluralist democracy. St. John’s needs to amplify its powerful and distinctive voice in higher education—and I am committed to helping the college do that.”