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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._John%27s_College_(Annapolis/Santa_Fe)

St. John's College is a private liberal arts college known for its distinctive curriculum centered on reading and discussing the Great Books of Western Civilization. It has two U.S. campuses: one in Annapolis, Maryland, and one in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The College traces its origins to King William's School, a preparatory school founded in 1696.[3] It received a collegiate charter in 1784, making it one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States.[4] In 1937, it adopted a Great Books curriculum known as the New Program, based on discussion of works from the Western canon of philosophical, religious, historical, mathematical, scientific, and literary works; it is probably for this program that the school is best known.

The school grants only one bachelor's degree, in Liberal Arts. Two master's degrees are currently available through the college's Graduate Institute—one in Liberal Arts, which is a modified version of the undergraduate curriculum (differing mostly in that the graduate students do not take a language and are not restricted to a set sequence of courses), and one in Eastern Classics, which applies most of the features of the undergraduate curriculum (seminars, preceptorials, language study and a set sequence of courses) to a list of classic works from India, China and Japan. The Master of Arts in Eastern Classics is only available at the Santa Fe campus.[5] Despite its name and the inclusion of selections from the Bible, as well as from some major Christian theologians and philosophers in the program, the College has no religious affiliation

Old Program[edit] St. John's College traces its origins to King Williams School, founded in 1696. In 1784, Maryland granted a charter to a new institution, St. John's College, which absorbed the original preparatory school in 1785.[6] The college took up residence in a building known as Bladen's Folly (the current McDowell Hall), which was originally built to be the Maryland governor's mansion, but was not completed.[7] There was some association with the Freemasons early in the college's history, leading to speculation that it was named after Saint John the Evangelist. The College's original charter, reflecting the Masonic value of religious tolerance as well as the religious diversity of the founders (which included Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and the Roman Catholic Charles Carroll of Carrollton) stated that "youth of all religious denominations shall be freely and liberally admitted". In contrast to Washington and Lee University, a contemporary institution, the College always maintained a small size, generally enrolling fewer than 500 men at a time.

In its early years, the college was at least nominally public -- the college's founders had envisaged it as the Western Shore branch of a proposed University of Maryland but a lack of enthusiasm from the Maryland General Assembly and its Eastern Shore counterpart, Washington College, made this largely a paper institution. After years of inconsistent funding and litigation, the College accepted a smaller annual grant in lieu of being funded through the state's annual appropriations process. During the civil war, the college closed and its campus was used as a military hospital. In 1907 it became the undergraduate college of a loosely organized "University of Maryland" that included the professional schools located in Baltimore. By 1920, when Maryland State College (founded in 1857 as Maryland Agricultural College) became the University of Maryland at College Park, St. John's was a free-standing private institution.[8]

The College curriculum has taken various forms throughout its history. It began with a general program of study in the liberal arts, but 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.[9] Garey and the Navy instituted a Naval Reserve unit in September 1924, creating the first-ever[citation needed] collegiate Department of Naval Science in the United States. But despite St. John's successfully pioneering the entire NROTC movement, student interest waned, the voluntary ROTC disappeared in 1926 with Garey's departure, and the Naval Reserve unit followed by 1929.[10]

New Program[edit] In 1936, the College lost its accreditation.[11] The Board of Visitors and Governors, faced with dire financial straits caused by the Great Depression, invited educational innovators Stringfellow Barr and Scott Buchanan to make a completely fresh start. They introduced a new program of study, which remains in effect today. Buchanan became dean of the College, while Barr assumed its presidency. In his guide Cool Colleges, Donald Asher writes that the New Program was implemented to save the college from closing: "Several benefactors convinced the college to reject a watered-down curriculum in favor of becoming a very distinctive academic community. Thus this great institution was reborn as a survival measure."[12]

In 1938, Walter Lippman wrote a column praising liberal arts education as a bulwark against fascism, and said "in the future, men will point to St. John's College and say that there was the seed-bed of the American renaissance."[13]

In 1940, national attention was attracted to St. John's by a story in Life entitled "The Classics: At St. John's They Come into Their Own Once More".[13] Classic works unavailable in English translation were translated by faculty members, typed, mimeographed, and bound. They were sold to the general public as well as to students, and by 1941 the St. John's College bookshop was famous as the only source for English translations of works such as Copernicus's De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, St. Augustine's De Musica, and Ptolemy's Almagest.

The wartime years were difficult for the all-male St. John's. Enlistment and the draft all but emptied the college; 15 seniors graduated in 1943, eight in 1945, and three in 1946.[13] From 1940-46, St. John's was repeatedly confronted with threats of its land being seized by the Navy for expansion of the neighboring U.S. Naval Academy, and James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, formally announced plans to do so in 1945. At the time, The New York Times, which had expected a legal battle royal comparable to the Dartmouth case, commented that "although a small college of fewer than 200 students, St. John's has, because of its experimental liberal arts program, received more publicity and been the center of a greater academic controversy than most other colleges in the land. Its best-books program has been attacked and praised by leading educators of the day."[14]

The constant threat of eviction discouraged Stringfellow Barr. In late 1946 Forrestal withdrew the plan, in the face of public opposition and the disapproval of the House Naval Affairs Committee, but Barr and Scott Buchanan were already committed to leaving St. John's and launching Liberal Arts, Inc., a new, similar college in Stockbridge, Massachusetts; that project eventually failed—but thinking about other sites for the college eventually led to the opening of St. John's second campus, in Santa Fe, in 1964. In 1948, St. John's became the first previously all-white college south of the Mason-Dixon line to voluntarily admit African American students.[15]

The movement to desegregate the College was wholly internal, beginning with students who, with the support of the faculty and administration, persuaded a reluctant Board of Visitors and Governors to go along. The first African American student was Martin A. Dyer, from Baltimore, who graduated in 1952. In 1949, Richard D. Weigle became president of St. John's. Following the chaotic and difficult period from 1940 to 1949, Weigle's presidency continued for 31 years,[16] during which the New Program and the college itself became well established.

In 1951, St. John's became coeducational, admitting women for the first time in its then-254-year history. There was some objection from students because they had not been involved in—nor even aware of—the decision before it was announced to the media, and from some who believed that the college could not remain a serious institution were it to admit women. Martin Dyer reported that women who were admitted quickly proved they were the academic and intellectual equals of their male counterparts. As enrollment grew during the 1950s, and facing the coming larger baby-boom generation, thoughts turned again towards opening another campus—but this time in addition to, not instead of, the one in Annapolis. Serious talk of expansion began in 1959 when the father of a student from Monterey, California, suggested to President Weigle that he establish a new campus there. Time (magazine) ran an article on the college's possible expansion plans,[17] and, in addition to California, 32 offers came in to the college, from New Hampshire, Oregon, Georgia, Alaska, Florida, Connecticut, and other states. A group from the Monterey Peninsula told Weigle that they were definitely interested, though funding was a problem, and suitable land was a big question. There was also an offer of land in Claremont, California, but competition with the other colleges there for students and financial contributions was a negative. The Riverside Mission Inn (in Riverside, California) was another possibility, but with only 5 acres (20,000 m2) of land and lots of renovations needed to the inn, funding was again a major question. A negative factor for California in general was the cost of living for faculty.[citation needed]

Nevertheless, all three locations were major contenders, when Robert McKinney (publisher of The Santa Fe New Mexican and a former SJC board member) called and told Weigle that a group of city leaders had long been looking for another college for Santa Fe. At a lunch Weigle attended at John Gaw Meem's house on the outskirts of Santa Fe in late January 1961, Meem volunteered that he had a little piece of land (214 acres (0.87 km2)) that he would gladly donate to the college. Upon looking at it after lunch, Weigle instantly fell in love with it. A committee of four faculty members (Robert Bart, Barbara Leonard, Douglas Allanbrook, and William Darkey) went to visit all four sites (the three in California, and Santa Fe) and, after much deliberation, also recommended Santa Fe.[18]

Western mystery writer Tony Hillerman tells a slightly different story: The site selection committee, having originally expected to locate in Claremont, California, reluctantly accepted an invitation to inspect the site in Santa Fe. Hillerman spEAKS a tale of the committeemen:

made pale from the weak sun of the coastal climate and their scholarly profession, generally urban, generally Eastern, solidly W.A.S.P. They came from a world which was old Anglo-Saxon family, old books, Greek and Latin literacy, prep schools and Blue Point oysters and Ivy League; a world bounded on the north by Boston... and on the south by Virginia.[19]

In 1961, the governing board of St. John's thus approved plans to establish a second college at Santa Fe, New Mexico. Groundbreaking occurred on April 22, 1963, and the first classes began in 1964. As it turned out, land was also donated to the college on the Monterey Peninsula in California shortly after this, on condition that a campus also be developed there by a certain date. It eventually became apparent that opening yet a third campus in close succession to the second would stretch the college's resources too far, however.