• Christopher Nelson
    Christopher Nelson

Christopher Nelson, one of the leading advocates for liberal arts education in the United States, will give the 2011 commencement address at Southwestern University. The ceremony will be held Saturday, May 7, at 2 p.m. in the Corbin J. Robertson Center.

Nelson is in his 20th year as president of St. John’s College, which has campuses in Annapolis, Md., and Santa Fe, N.M. St. John’s is a liberal arts college known for its unique curriculum that focuses on the seminal works of Western civilization. The age-old concepts students read are then applied to contemporary themes in modern society in every discipline from chemistry to theatre. In addition to serving as president of the college, Nelson also leads seminars and lectures on subjects ranging from politics and society to Virgil’s Aeneid.

Nelson received his bachelor of arts (cum laude) from St. John’s College and his Juris Doctor (Society of Bar and Gavel) from the University of Utah College of Law. Prior to becoming a college president, he practiced law in Chicago and co-founded the firm of Kovar Nelson Brittain & Morris, which specialized in employee benefits and labor issues.

Nelson has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2011 Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award, the 2006 Lab School of Washington, D.C., Outstanding Achievers Award, the 2005 Rosenbach Museum & Library Inaugural Award for Passion for Literature and Teaching, the 1996 Loyola College of Maryland Andrew White Medal, and the 1995 St. John’s Alumni Association Award of Merit.

He is a former chair of the Annapolis Group, a consortium of more than 120 of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, a former board member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and a former chair of the Maryland Independent College and University Association. He currently serves on the board of the Independent College Fund of Maryland.

“A conversation with Chris Nelson always rekindles my advocacy for the liberal arts and their importance to society,” said Southwestern University President Jake B. Schrum. “It will be a great pleasure to hear him address the class of 2011.”

Approximately 280 May and August graduates are expected to receive degrees at the May 7 ceremony, of whom 66 are Paideia graduates – the program’s largest number to date. For friends and relatives who are unable to attend the ceremony, it will be streamed live on the Internet. For details on how to watch the broadcast, go to http://southwestern.edu/alumni/graduation/webcast.php

Overflow viewing also will be available in Room 105 of the Olin Building.

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