The Awards Committee of the Alumni Association nominates candidates for honorary membership in the Alumni Association. Honorary membership may be given to any person for his or her significant role, service, or contribution in or to the life of the college, especially regarding alumni or students. Tutors who have reached retirement age (65 or older) and staff shall be considered for honorary membership. To call attention to someone who should be considered for nomination, contact the Director of Alumni Relations.
Mike Bechko is the Network and Telephone Systems Coordinator on the Santa Fe campus and joined the college’s IT department in May, 1999. Because IT supports the entire college, alumni, staff, faculty, and students have all had the pleasure of working with Mr. Bechko over his 23-year tenure.
Of Mr. Bechko, it is said that “his ready smile, great sense of humor, incomparable dependability, and relaxed demeanor make it possible for us to face technology’s continued stressors. Nothing rattles Mike: as one staff member notes, she’s never heard him yell, ‘though there are many times when he should have.’”
In his life outside the office, Mr. Bechko enjoys engaging in new forms of exercise and approaches to well-being; and he steadfastly believes in the importance of using one’s brain for other-than-work activities.
Cara Sabolcik was a vital part of the Greenfield Library staff on the Annapolis campus for 21 years, retiring as the Associate Library Director in 2021. In her role, she worked across all functions of the library, including mentoring students and curating library exhibitions. Ms. Sabolcik was instrumental in establishing the college’s Digital Archives and digitized the library’s audiovisual collection.
It is also important to note that Ms. Sabolcik discovered that W. E. B. Du Bois gave a lecture on April 13, 1952, which was then independently confirmed by alumni, and which became the basis for the collegewide celebration this year of the 70th anniversary of this important occasion.
Ms. Sabolcik’s service to St. John’s also includes various appointments on the Staff Council and in numerous faculty, undergraduate, and Graduate Institute study groups through the years. In the greater community, Ms. Sabolcik served as chair and vice chair of the Maryland Interlibrary Loan Group, thereby enabling access to books otherwise not readily available to St. John’s College and making the Greenfield Library more widely known as a participating peer institution.
Dr. Susan Shamos is the Founder of The Centus School Counseling Program, which places experienced counselors and social workers in schools that otherwise would not have enough access to high-quality mental health services for students. Together with her husband Jeremy (SFGI76), Susan has been a supporter and benefactor for multiple arts organizations throughout Denver and the state of Colorado. Susan and Jeremy led Denver’s efforts to host the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention, a gathering of 5,000 U.S. and international artists and arts professionals.
Notably, Susan has participated in Summer Classics at the college for over three decades. She and Jeremy are among the top 15 lifetime donors to the college, inspiring others to join them in philanthropy and enriching the college community by gifting substantial works of art for public spaces on campus. Susan has served on the college’s Board of Visitors and Governors since 2016.
Mark Sinnett served as a tutor at St. John’s College from 2000–20. In this role, he drew upon his background in mathematics and theology, having received his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin, as well as a PhD in Systematic Theology from Cambridge University. Prior to coming to St. John’s, Mr. Sinnett was a Lecturer in mathematics at Concordia Lutheran College, Kansas University, and San Jacinto College. He is also a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church, having served as Minister at the First Presbyterian Church, Stephenville, Texas, and as a Senior Minister at Clemmons Presbyterian Church in Clemmons, North Carolina. Mr. Sinnett had the honor of being a Visiting Scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge, in 1997.
A beloved tutor, Mr. Sinnett was overwhelmingly chosen by the graduating class of 2022 to be their graduation speaker.
Donlin M. Long, PhD, is the head of a dedicated family of Johnnies. His wife, Harriet (AGI93), served on the college’s Board of Visitors and Governors, his daughter Elisabeth Long (A86) currently serves on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, and he himself served on the St. John’s College Presidents’ Council. He is also the loving father of two other graduates of St. John’s, Kimberly Riley (AGI87) and David Long (A90). After completing a PhD in neuroanatomy in 1964, Long served as professor of neurosurgery and chief neurosurgeon at the Johns Hopkins University for 27 years. He was one of the first program directors in the nation to adopt a major interest in chronic pain and developed an infrastructure for patient care at Johns Hopkins while advancing the standards for pain care around the world. During his career, Long has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles and 100 book chapters, as well as 16 books. He was named a distinguished professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins from 2000 until his official retirement in 2010. In addition to these accomplishments, he and Harriet have been active members of the college community and consistent donors since 1983. They established the Long Family Endowment with a leadership-level legacy commitment to the Freeing Minds campaign and are sustaining members of the college’s Mitchell Gallery. In 2019, they became members of the college’s Tocqueville Society for planned giving.
Watch an interview with Donlin Long
Mary Anne Burke has been a member of the St. John’s College community for more than 14 years, beginning as a staff member of the Advancement Office before transitioning to the Student Activity Center as fitness and wellness coordinator in Santa Fe. Burke, a known fitness and wellness buff and certified personal trainer, was nominated by current students in recognition of her extraordinary dedication, enthusiasm, and attention to the well-being of the college community. To create a more inclusive environment and to increase community engagement, Burke launched the Warrior Women Workouts, designing a fitness program that is welcoming, non-judgmental, and inclusive, and allows for customization by each participant. In response to the isolation caused by the pandemic, Burke partnered with Annapolis Athletics Director Chris Krueger (A07) to organize the “Meta-Ionnathon”—a race “of Pheidippidean proportions” between Santa Fe and Annapolis Johnnies to see who could (virtually) reach the other campus first. She also brought the archery program to the college, in which students compete locally, regionally, and nationally. Whether by student, staff, or faculty, Burke has been described as relationship-focused, maintaining connections with former students even after graduation. As Assistant Dean Michael Golluber notes, “Mary Anne has changed my life. Before she came, all [I] did is study and suffer from stress and anxiety. She helped me to start moving and to remember I had a body. I might be dead now if it weren’t for her. I know many feel the same way I do about this.”
Watch an interview with Mary Anne Burke
Paul and Cecie Dry’s embrace of the St. John’s College community and their commitment to the Program have resulted in their ongoing participation in classroom learning and financial support to the college. After reading a small ad in The New Yorker, Cecie and Paul first attended Summer Classics in Santa Fe in 1996 and have participated almost every summer since. In 2004, they initiated and funded a twice-yearly seminar in Annapolis led by tutors Eva Brann and Sam Kutler. Cecie attended the Executive Seminar program in Philadelphia and studied in the Graduate Institute in Annapolis. At Paul Dry Books, Paul has published numerous works by St. John’s tutors. The Dry Family Foundation supports The Eva Brann Endowed Tutorship and the Southwest Scholars Partners Program, which is designed to benefit enrollment on the Santa Fe campus. Their engagement with the college is generational as Guillermo Bleichmar, their son-in-law, has been a tutor at the Santa Fe campus since 2009. The Drys have truly embraced the spirit of St. John’s College and made its health and wellbeing a central part of their lives.
Watch an interview with Paul and Cecie Dry
The St. John’s College community experienced an enormous loss with the death of longtime tutor Lise van Boxel in January 2020.
Regarded by her students as thoughtful, acutely intelligent, and always open to discourse, van Boxel first joined the Santa Fe faculty in 2001. In her nearly 20-year career at the college, she taught across both campuses and was deeply devoted to all her students–advising with care many senior essays each year, and mentoring Johnnies in their studies and careers after graduation.
In return, she drew much inspiration from her students’ “earnest desire to learn and their willingness to be vulnerable in pursuit of genuine conversation,” as she once stated. She also had a particular respect for military service, which led her to co-found the “St. John’s Combat and Classics” podcast. The audio series has helped service members connect to the Program by examining historical and fictional leaders featured in military-themed literary works.
As St. John’s College classrooms continue to seek what it means to lead an examined life, they will do so in the spirit with which Lise van Boxel led her own life.
Van Boxel held degrees in political science–BA and PhD from the University of Toronto, and MA from Boston College–all with an emphasis on political philosophy. Her doctoral thesis was on the standard of truth in Nietzsche’s philosophy.
A dedicated champion of the college, Robert Mass joined St. John’s College Board of Visitors and Governors in 2013. He demonstrated great leadership, especially through his committee service, in his role as board secretary, and as Audit and Compliance Committee chair.
Through his leadership, Mass guided St. John’s through some of its most challenging times, including the current deficit reduction initiatives, helping ensure the future success of the college. He helped St. John’s prioritize student safety and wellbeing initiatives through his service on the Campus Culture Committee. Mass has been an advocate for international student recruitment, funding and fundraising for scholarships as well as making personal calls to admitted students. He has also advised and supported students in their search for finance industry internships and post-graduation employment.
Mass’s service to the college draws on his deep legal and compliance experience at public and private firms, including the American Civil Liberties Union, New York County District Attorney’s Office, and Goldman Sachs where he is a managing director.
Lifelong learning is a commitment Mass shares with St. John’s, as evidenced by his current pursuit of a PhD in Philosophy at The New School in New York City. An active participant in the Executive Seminar and Summer Classics programs for over 15 years, Mass deeply values the classroom experience at St. John’s–an appreciation that has contributed to his ongoing and tireless support of the college.
Described by his students as a clear thinker, an effective writer, and a compassionate listener, St. John’s College tutor William Pastille first joined the Annapolis faculty in 1986.
During his longtime career at the college, Pastille has held several important roles, including serving as NEH chair in Ancient Thought over the past two years. From 2001 to 2003, he directed the Graduate Institute in Annapolis and served as assistant dean in Annapolis from 1993 to 1995. In addition to his role in the classroom, Pastille is a participating tutor in the Annapolis Community Seminar Program and has been editor of The St. John’s Review, an annual publication featuring works from college faculty, for the past 13 years.
In all his duties, Pastille has shown an unwavering passion for discovering truth through questioning–a pursuit that has deeply affected Annapolis students and community members alike. With the close of this year’s spring semester, he will retire from St. John’s and be named Tutor Emeritus by the college. With this new title, Pastille will continue to embody the ideals for which St. John’s stands, and remain a valued member of the college for years to come.
Pastille holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in musicology from Cornell University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in music from Brown University.
Casey Pingle joined the St. John’s College Mitchell Gallery Board of Advisors in 1994, and has served as its chair for the past 7 years.
In her more than 25 years of involvement with the gallery, Pingle has provided integral oversight of the operation–from supporting fundraising and membership efforts, to event coordination for “town and gown” events, student receptions, and more. Her leadership with such initiatives, combined with her work as the gallery representative for the college’s Friends Board, have helped strengthen relations between St. John’s and the greater Annapolis community, immensely. Additionally, as a former board member and current supporter of the Caritas Society of St. John’s College, Pingle helps the charitable community organization provide monetary support for SJC students faced with financial hardship or emergencies.
For her consistent efforts on behalf of St. John’s, Pingle is recognized as a true advocate for the gallery and the college as a whole.
Pingle is co-owner of PMD International, Inc., a private investment bank formed in 1987 with offices in Annapolis and London.