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St. John’s successes reach far beyond the college’s classrooms

SANTA FE, N.M. — An article celebrating St. John’s College’s 50th anniversary ran in Journal North the week of June 27-July 3. It relied heavily on email correspondence from SJC alum Philip Chandler, a valued member of our alumni body and graduate of the St. John’s 1968 founding class.

Still, I would like to offer some context and correction to aspects of the article informed by Mr. Chandler’s contributions.

Victoria J. Mora. (Courtesy of St. John's)

Victoria J. Mora. (Courtesy of St. John’s)

To be sure, Mr. Chandler was absolutely correct in his evaluation of our faculty – they truly are exceptional teachers, distinguished by their learning across disciplines and their commitment to student learning.

Our students do leave SJC prepared to live an “examined life,”and they do so across a variety of professions and disciplines, from law to education, medicine to business, entrepreneurialism to science and technology.

In all that they do, graduates of St. John’s are distinguished by the rigorous and imaginative habits of mind they have gained in the learning community that is the essence of St. John’s College.

Unfortunately, Mr. Chandler’s impressions of our financial aid packages and student life on campus failed to accurately depict St. John’s as it enters its 50th year in Santa Fe.

Specifically, 82 percent of our current undergraduates receive financial support from the college, which accounts for 71 percent of the total cost of tuition, making a degree from St. John’s College accessible to more and more students every year.

As a native New Mexican from Albuquerque, I am happy to say that an increasing number of New Mexico students are among these recipients. The Odyssey Grant, designed for New Mexico students, provides increased aid to make a degree at St John’s possible for more of our “best and brightest” who would otherwise go out of state to pursue the kind of first-class liberal education that small residential colleges like St. John’s offer.

Even given our ranking as one of the most rigorous colleges in the United States, our students enjoy a robust and well-rounded collegiate experience, with activities ranging from intramural sports to theater, newspaper and community volunteer programs.

Our students also engage in an outdoor program with activities offered each weekend, and on school breaks and holidays. Local excursions include hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, skiing and rafting, while longer expeditions include sea kayaking and multi-sport trips in surrounding states.

In fact, student demand for increased outdoor programming has led to the founding of a new wilderness leadership series that gives students the opportunity to increase wilderness skills through education outings in backcountry settings.

Students are also active in Atalaya Search and Rescue, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization headquartered on St. John’s campus that is dedicated to recovering lost or injured people in New Mexico’s backcountry.

The success of St. John’s College is founded on the commitment of students and families to achieve their academic goals. Financial aid is one important part of the equation and St. John’s continues to rise to the challenge.

When our unique liberal arts curriculum is paired with our expansive student activities programming, our students experience something not available anywhere else in the United States. Far from “stuffy,” the real and lively exchange of ideas among students from all walks of life, and from all 50 states and multiple countries across the globe is alive and well at St. John’s, as is the spirit of exploration that drives our students inside and outside of the classroom.

Victoria J. Mora is vice president for advancement, St. John’s College.