New Mexico

Planned leadership change at Great Books college stirs angst

  • The campus of St. John’s College is seen in a June 10, 2016 photo in Annapolis, Md. The college’s Board of Visitors and Governors proposes naming one president over the college’s two campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, instead of the current two presidents. Board members say they aim improve the college’s fiscal health by being more efficient, not change its unique curriculum.  (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

    The campus of St. John’s College is seen in a June 10, 2016 photo in Annapolis, Md. The college’s Board of Visitors and Governors proposes naming one president over the college’s two campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, instead of the current two presidents. Board members say they aim improve the college’s fiscal health by being more efficient, not change its unique curriculum. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)  (The Associated Press)

  • St. John’s College President Chris Nelson, who is retiring after 25 years at the helm of the leafy campus in Maryland’s historic capital, talks on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland, about a proposal to have one president for both of the colleges campuses in Annapolis and Santa Fe, New Mexico, instead of two separate presidents. He says the plan is to streamline operations and save money by consolidating offices that are duplicated on both campuses. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

    St. John’s College President Chris Nelson, who is retiring after 25 years at the helm of the leafy campus in Maryland’s historic capital, talks on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland, about a proposal to have one president for both of the colleges campuses in Annapolis and Santa Fe, New Mexico, instead of two separate presidents. He says the plan is to streamline operations and save money by consolidating offices that are duplicated on both campuses. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)  (The Associated Press)

  • The campus of St. John’s College is seen in a June 10, 2016 photo in Annapolis, Md. The college’s Board of Visitors and Governors proposes naming one president over the college’s two campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, instead of the current two presidents. Board members say they aim improve the college’s fiscal health by being more efficient, not change its unique curriculum.  (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

    The campus of St. John’s College is seen in a June 10, 2016 photo in Annapolis, Md. The college’s Board of Visitors and Governors proposes naming one president over the college’s two campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, instead of the current two presidents. Board members say they aim improve the college’s fiscal health by being more efficient, not change its unique curriculum. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)  (The Associated Press)

Tiny St. John's College offers the most venerable of liberal arts educations: a course of study founded firmly on discussions of the Great Books of western civilization.

These days, though, some say the college's Board of Visitors and Governors has strayed from the college's spirit of inclusive dialogue as it made plans to consolidate leadership. The board proposes naming one president over the college's two campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, instead of the current two presidents.

Critics say the plan took shape behind closed doors without sufficient student and faculty input, contrary to St. John's tradition.

Board members say they aim to improve the college's fiscal health by being more efficient, not change its unique curriculum.