Christopher B. Nelson has been president of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, since June 1991. He is an alumnus of St. John's (B.A. 1970) and a graduate of the University of Utah College of Law (J.D. 1973), where he founded and directed the university's student legal services program. He practiced law in Chicago for 18 years and was chairman of his law firm when he left the practice to take his current position at St. John's College.
A member of the Maryland Independent College and University Association (MICUA) since 1991, he served as chairman of the Board of Directors (2003-2006). He is past chair (2005-2007) and a founding member of the Annapolis Group, a consortium of over 120 of the nation's leading liberal arts colleges. Mr. Nelson has been a member of the Board of Directors of the AFS-USA (American Field Service) (1993-2003, and 2007-present) and served as board chair (2001-2003) and vice chair (1998-2001). He is chair the Board of Trustees of Shimer College (2007-present), and has served as vice chair (2006-2007) and as chair of the Academic Affairs Committee (2005-2007). He has also a member of the Board of the Historic Annapolis Foundation since 1999, serves as its Vice-Chair, and has served as its Treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee (2002-2008); the Board of the Independent College Fund of Maryland (vice chair 1994-1999); and the Maryland State Archives Commission (1991-present).
Mr. Nelson has served on the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) Board of Directors (1996-1999) and its Executive Committee (1998-1999), the NAICU Task Force on Accountability and Public Information (1995-1996) and the NAICU Task Force on Appropriate Accountability, Regulation and Assessment (1993-1994); member, the Presidents' Work Group on Accreditation (1995-96); Board of Trustees, Severn School (Maryland) (1995-2004); chair, County Executive's Special Committee on Impact Fees for Anne Arundel County (1999-2000); chair, County Executive's Special Committee on Anne Arundel Community College (1994-1995); and chair of the Annapolis Mayor’s Task Force on the Arts and Humanities in Annapolis (2008-present).
Mr. Nelson has been a panelist and speaker on state, regional, and national programs concerning liberal education, great books, issues of institutional autonomy in the face of government regulatory intrusion, and changes proposed in the accrediting system. He has lectured on Virgil, Plato, Homer, and John Henry Cardinal Newman, and is a published author on issues facing higher education.
Prior to 1991, Mr. Nelson served on numerous national, state and local Bar Association committees and has published articles in the field of labor and employee benefits law. He has served on boards and committees for the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry (for business and public school partnerships), St. John's College, and St. Joseph's College (Indiana).