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Tutor Holtzman to Address Annapolis Grads

April 12, 2018 | By Tim Pratt

Tutor Matthew Holtzman (A00) will deliver the commencement address this spring in Annapolis.

When Matthew Holtzman (A00) was a student at St. John’s College, he was most at home sitting in his room, his head buried in a book.

The Baltimore County native never thought he would one day become a tutor at his alma mater in Annapolis and guide students through the same great books of Western tradition that so profoundly affected his life.

Today, Holtzman not only is a tutor at St. John’s, but he is set to deliver the commencement address in Annapolis on May 13. The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the front lawn. More than 110 students from the college’s undergraduate and graduate programs will cross the stage.

Holtzman says he was “bewildered with gratitude” when asked to address the Class of 2018.

“I think the invitation has afforded me an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on the significance of an education at this school,” Holtzman says. “This is something that I often feel as though I should spend more time considering, and I’ve made attempts as a tutor to put myself in a position to force me to do it. But I relish the challenge of articulating something about this that might sound true and to be of some use to such a class I have grown to love over the years.”

Holtzman says he grew up an avid reader in a “bookish” family. When it came time to consider colleges, family members and teachers recommended he attend St. John’s.

After arriving in Annapolis, Holtzman delved deeper into the great books. At the same time, he grew gradually more comfortable engaging in conversation with his classmates and tutors.

“That was very important for me,” he says.

Holtzman also served as editor The Collegian literary magazine and ran a poetry club. He was part of a wine-tasting club, too.

After St. John’s, Holtzman earned a master’s in philosophy from University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and a PhD in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He worked as a visiting professor at Washington College on Maryland’s Eastern Shore from 2011 to 2013, and returns annually with fellow tutor Tom May to conduct a seminar with students there. 

Holtzman joined the St. John’s faculty in the fall of 2013.

“Because I received my first rigorous education at the college, it was an especially formative experience for me, so I continued reading the books and investigating the questions that I learned to recognize as significant here,” he says. “Doing these things seem to me neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for tutorhood, but I think that living my life that way probably helped make it possible to imagine me in that role. And in certain respects, it is extremely helpful to me now.”

To learn more about commencement events at St. John’s College, visit our Annapolis and Santa Fe commencement pages.