Christopher B. Nelson served as president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, from June 1991 to 2017 and has continued to serve on its teaching faculty since then. He is an alumnus of St. John’s (BA 1970) and of the University of Utah College of Law (JD 1973). He practiced law in Chicago for 18 years and was chairman of his law firm when he left the practice to take his position at St. John’s College.
Nelson was twice been elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (2014-2017 and 1996-1999) and served as its Chair (2017-2018). He served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Maryland Independent Colleges and Universities Association (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. He served on the Board of Directors of the AFS-USA (formerly the American Field Service) (1993-2003, and 2007-2010) and as its chair (2001-2003). He was chair of the Board of Trustees of Shimer College (2007-2011).
Nelson was the 2015 recipient of the Henry Paley Award, awarded by the National Association of Colleges and Universities. The award “recognizes an individual who, throughout his or her career, has unfailingly served the students and faculty of independent higher education.”
Locally, Nelson’s interests include education, the arts, historic preservation, and public libraries. He has served on the boards of the Anne Arundel County Library Foundation (2018-22) Historic Annapolis Foundation, the Maryland State Archives Commission, and Severn School He chaired the County Executive’s Special Committee on Impact Fees for Anne Arundel County (1999-2000), the County Executive’s Special Committee on Anne Arundel Community College (1994-1995), and the Annapolis Mayor’s Task Force on the Arts and Humanities in Annapolis (2008-2009). He received the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County and the 2016 Humanitarian Award from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee.
Today, Nelson serves as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Anne Arundel County Library; Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Scholarships for Scholars of Anne Arundel County; and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Innermost House Foundation headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia (2017- ).
Nelson is a resident of Annapolis.