Beginnings Higher Education

A Word of Welcome

The 2015-16 academic year is about to begin, and I’d like to take this opportunity to extend a special greeting to the new students who will be joining us for the first time. I still remember my early days as a freshman in Annapolis—now nearly 50 years ago! I remember the friends I made in […]

Education Higher Education Liberal Education

Why I Teach 154-year-old Mathematical Physics

The rise in advocacy for education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) has centered around the importance of these fields to our nation’s economy and business competitiveness. Recently, however, Fareed Zakaria made a case for STEM education as a part of a liberal education. Zakaria placed particular emphasis on the humanities as being at […]


Summer Reads

Perhaps because I’m the president of a college where we read and study some of the greatest books ever written, I’m often asked what I have on my summer reading list. I suspect people wonder whether I ever read the sort of light literature that is so popular in the summertime and on vacations, or whether it’s […]

Beginnings Education Higher Education Liberal Education Students

5 Things to Do When You Get to College

Congratulations to graduates in the Class of 2015. Graduating high-school students often ask me how college will differ from high school. And what I say usually seems to come as a surprise: In college, you should start thinking much more seriously about happiness. “What does college have to do with happiness?” you may be thinking. And who […]

Choosing St. John's Commencement Education Higher Education Liberal Education Students

The Wisdom of Virtuous Friendship

This past Sunday, St. John’s College in Annapolis held its 223rd commencement ceremony. By long tradition, the outgoing senior class selects the commencement speaker. This year, the seniors chose long-time tutor Jonathan Tuck, who retired in 2013 after more than thirty years of service to St. John’s. Mr. Tuck spoke about our common efforts, about […]


An Educational Summer Ahead – Internships for Liberal Artists

As the school year winds down, I’ve been talking to more and more students about how they intend to spend summer break. A good many of them will be taking up summer internships. A summer internship is a win/win proposition, both for employers and for students. The business, research lab, or nonprofit gets a willing […]

Education Higher Education Liberal Education Students

Bravery through Education

I find that our students can provide the most inspiring accounts of the St. John’s experience. They present St. John’s from the viewpoint that matters most—from the perspective of those for whom the College exists. Every spring, the Caritas Society of St. John’s College holds a luncheon at which a student who has benefitted from […]

Education Higher Education Liberal Education Seminar Students

5 Simple Steps Colleges Can Take to Enhance Student Satisfaction

Sometimes complex problems respond to simple remedies. I was reading recently how psychologists David Yeager and Greg Walton discovered that the dropout rate for disadvantaged college students could be cut significantly simply by exposing them to a one-time, thirty-to-forty-five-minute-long presentation on neuroplasticity showing that people can improve their brain functioning on complex intellectual tasks just by practicing. […]