This special lecture series, jointly sponsored by St. John’s College and the United States Naval Academy, honors LCDR Erik S. Kristensen (AGI00)—an alumnus of the Academy and the St. John’s Graduate Institute. Kristensen, a Navy SEAL, was killed in the line of duty while leading a search and rescue mission in Afghanistan in 2005.
Ambassador Roger D. Carstens (AGI17) will deliver the Erik S. Kristensen Memorial Lecture, held in partnership with the U.S. Naval Academy. Carstens is the U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, and an alum of the St. John’s College Graduate Institute. Read more about Carstens.
A fellow Johnnie established the lecture series in 2013 to honor the life and legacy of GI alumnus Erik Kristensen.
The annual memorial lecture series to honor Kristensen was initiated by a 1992 St. John’s College graduate, Lt. Michael Zampella, along with friends and family. All inquiries concerning the lecture should be directed to mzampella(at)mac.com.
The lecture series is supported in large part by the Navy SEAL Foundation, Inc., Eye-Street Kristensen Klassic, and the Navy SEAL Family Foundation.
Recordings of most past Kristensen Memorial Lectures are available on the St. John’s College Digital Archives site.
Since 2013, The Erik S. Kristensen Memorial Lecture Series at St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland has honored the memory of Erik Kristensen, an alumnus of St. John’s and the United States Naval Academy. The lectures deal with one or more of the following subjects: civil-military relations, great works of military or naval history or literary works depicting military or naval figures and events, the vital importance of naval and military power for our nation in peacetime and in war and the role of the liberal arts in professional military education.
Lieutenant Commander Erik S. Kristensen, USN, was born March 15, 1972. Educated at Gonzaga College High School, Phillips Andover Academy, and the United States Naval Academy. He first served as a Surface Warfare Officer, then as an English Instructor at the Naval Academy while attending the Graduate Institute at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. He completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in Coronado, California, graduating with BUD/S class 233. He served with SEAL Team EIGHT and then deployed as a Task Unit Commander with SEAL Team TEN to Afghanistan. On June 28, 2005, LCDR Kristensen led a daring mission to rescue a four-man SEAL reconnaissance squad engaged in a fierce firefight with Taliban forces. LCDR Kristensen, seven other SEALs, and eight Army aviators died when their helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. LT Michael Murphy, Petty Officers Matthew Axelson, Danny Dietz, and Marcus Luttrell fought on courageously, only Luttrell survived. The 2007 book and 2013 film Lone Survivor tell their story.
He had a great love of the arts and literature. He spoke French, and planned to study at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris after his tour in Afghanistan as an Olmstead Scholar. He is survived by his father Edward K. Kristensen, RADM, USN (Ret.) and his mother Suzanne.
The lecture series was founded by LCDR Michael A. Zampella USN, a 1992 graduate of St. John’s College, Annapolis.
Dr. Jeffrey R. Macris, the Deputy Director of the Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center will deliver a lecture entitled “The Enduring Relevance of Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War” on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 at 8 p.m. in the Great Hall of McDowell Hall on the Annapolis campus. It is free and open to the public.
Formerly of Yale University, where he taught as a Presidential Visiting Fellow, he is a former U.S. Navy aviator in the P-3 Orion patrol and anti-submarine warfare community, before becoming a Permanent Military Professor in the Naval Academy’s History Department. He earned the Naval Academy’s 2016 Military Professor of the Year Award, and left active duty the following year at the rank of Navy Captain (O-6) and Associate Professor.
Dr. Macris has published multiple peer-reviewed academic articles, as well as two books on the Great Powers in the Middle East. He holds a PhD (with Distinction) from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, as well as a linguist certificate in Arabic from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.
St. John’s College
PO Box 75905
Baltimore, MD 21275-5905
Please place Kristensen Lecture Restricted Fund in the memo of the check.
You can make a gift online.
Click on “Designation”
Click on “Other” and type Kristensen Lecture Restricted Fund in the comment box.
Founded as a general program of study in the liberal arts, St. John’s was a military school for much of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It ended compulsory military training with Major Enoch Garey’s accession as president in 1923. He replaced the cadet corps with a voluntary ROTC program established to supply officers with a broader range of instruction than was available at military academies. In September 1924 Garey brought the nation’s first Naval ROTC program to St. John’s as a pilot program to test the scheme for the Navy. This initial program’s success was enough to convince the Navy to establish six full-scale NROTC programs at Northwestern, Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington, and Georgia Institute of Technology in 1926. But despite St. John’s successfully pioneering efforts, student interest waned and the voluntary ROTC disappeared in 1926 with Garey’s departure. The Naval Reserve unit followed by 1929.
St. John’s alumni are among the veterans of the wars of the past century and the current conflicts. The college has always welcomed Active Duty members and veterans as students, both in its undergraduate program and in the Graduate Institute. Today, St. John’s provides the maximum financial support possible under the Yellow Ribbon Program, a federal educational assistance program available to post-9/11 active duty veterans and their dependents. Between funding from the Veterans Administration and grants from St. John’s, all tuition and fees are covered for these students. Several students are enrolled under this program, and its financial commitment to this program over the last few years is among the highest in the state of Maryland, despite its small size.
The Great Books program which forms the core of the education at the college developed during World War I. Many scholars and politicians believed the war made urgent the task of educating Americans about the ideals on which Western Civilization had been constructed. The federal government encouraged colleges and universities to begin “war-issues courses” for the student soldiers headed overseas. John Erskine, a brilliant Columbia professor used this course to advance his own inter-disciplinary approach to education using classic texts from the Western Canon. The end of the hostilities found him at the American University in Beaune, France organizing Great Books courses for soldiers waiting to return stateside. Erskine’s experiences seeing how these soldiers read these books so directly and enthusiastically, confirmed for him his belief in this way of teaching learning. He returned to Columbia and established a variation on the Great Books program that still exists today. It was imitated and refined at University of Chicago and the University of Virginia, before being established as the sole curriculum by Scott Buchanan and Stringfellow Barr at St. John’s in 1937.
Since 2018, the Navy SEAL Foundation has supported the Kristensen Memorial Lecture. Established in 2000, the Navy SEAL Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that provides a comprehensive set of over 30 essential programs for SEALs, SWCCs, veterans, and their families. We stand at the forefront of crucial care and support for this unique community. We are there to help keep our warriors strong, healthy, and in the fight. We are there to help them transition to successful careers in the civilian sector. We are there to help their families every step of the way. And under the tragic circumstances that a member of Naval Special Warfare does not come home, we are there to assist as well.
The Erik S. Kristensen Eye Street Klassic was organized by family and friends of Gonzaga alumnus LCDR Kristensen. They invite golfers, volunteers, sponsors, family, and friends to celebrate Erik’s life and assist the sons of active duty military personnel to afford a Gonzaga education. Donations from the event support the lecture series.
See more information about the Erik S. Kristensen Eye Street Klassic