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New president celebrated at St. John's College

The Baltimore Sun

October 28, 2017


St. John’s College in Annapolis welcomed its new president, Panayiotis Kanelos, on Saturday afternoon in a celebration on campus that was in keeping with the small liberal arts school’s style.

Students waltzed at the reception and the new leader was given a medal — but instead of a regular chain, the links were a pattern of open books.

Though Kanelos’ inauguration was held Saturday, he stepped in to fill the shoes of past President Christopher Nelson on July 1. Nelson retired at the end of the school year after serving as president for 25 years.

Kanelos said he thinks Nelson kept community organizations, particularly arts and cultural groups, close to St. John’s. Nelson has laid the groundwork for him to follow-up on those relationships, he said.

“One of the wonderful things about being the president of a small college in a relatively small town is you get to know everybody face to face,” Kanelos said. “I could walk from here and, within six blocks, get to know people who are involved with practically everything going on in town.”

Those face-to-face actions are how the college and the rest of the community connect, Kanelos said. Though he hasn’t joined any boards or organizations in the broader community yet, he said he is open to doing so.

“Chris Nelson was such a fabulous member of the community — I don’t want to leave a vacuum there,” he said.

Kanelos is also a Shakespearean scholar. In the past he has served as resident Shakespearean scholar in the Old Globe MFA Program, and as founding director of the Interdisciplinary Shakespeare Studies Program at Loyola University Chicago.

“I’ve been involved in the arts world and the cultural world for a very long time,” he said. “That’s my natural habitat, so I can’t imagine not getting involved with that.”