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  • Writer's picturePatricia Salkin

Criminal Justice Scholar and Former Law Dean Nora V. Demleitner is St. John’s First Female President

When the Board of Visitors appointed Nora V. Demleitner as the first woman President in late 2021, she assumed office in 2022 as the 25th Annapolis president in the college’s 325-year history. St. John’s College is the third oldest college in the United States, and it did not start admitting women until 1951. It was established in 1696 as King William’s School and chartered in 1784 as St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland

Described by CIO Views as one of the 10 Most Influential Women Leaders in Education to follow in 2022, in an interview with the magazine she noted that when she first entered the education field, she said that she thought she would be a faculty member and teach and write about law for the rest of her career, never thinking about becoming a college president. In reflecting on how her experience as a law school dean served her well for the role of campus president, Demleitner noted, “Being a law school dean includes overseeing admissions and financial aid, the budget, and the curriculum…I had a lot of administrative experience before coming to St. John’s.” The interview also had her reflect on the topic of women presidents. She said, “It’s an interesting journey, and as much as I think the U.S. prides itself on gender equality and has made incredible strides in that direction, certainly women still get treated somewhat differently from men,..With the increase in the number of female presidents, board members, and philanthropists, the world is certainly changing, but challenges remain for women.” She explained that women leaders have to navigate things differently and that sometimes people underestimate what they are capable of. She stated, “You have to make people understand that you can read a budget sheet or are able to do things that are often ascribed to men,”

Prior to joining the St. John's College, Demleitner has served as the first woman dean of both Hofstra Law School and Washington and Lee University School of Law. She is a noted scholar and expert in criminal law, and is the editor of the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and served on the executive editorial board of the American Journal of Comparative Law. She is the lead author of Sentencing Law and Policy, a major casebook on sentencing law, published by Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Law & Business. Nora Demleitner is an elected member of the International Academy of Comparative Law, the American Law Institute, the European Law Institute, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

She received her J.D. from Yale and her LL.M. from Georgetown in international and comparative law. Following graduation from law school, Demleitner clerked for the Hon. Samuel A. Alito, Jr., then a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She also testified before Congress during Justice Alito’s confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nora Demleitner began her career in academia at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio. She was a senior research fellow at SUNY Buffalo’s Baldy Center, and the Boden Visitor at Marquette Law School. She also taught at the University of Michigan Law School and St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami, as well as in Europe at the University of Freiburg, Germany and the Sant’ Anna Institute of Advanced Research in Pisa, Italy. Multiple times she was a visiting researcher at the Max-Planck-Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Germany.

St. John’s College opened a second campus in Santa Fe in 1964 and some of their prior presidents, Chris Nelson and Mark Roosevelt were attorneys.

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