With the unexpected appearance of Santa Fe as an 11th hour candidate for the new campus’s location, Weigle was thrown an unexpected curveball. The College had at this point narrowed its focus from its original field of 38 geographic candidates down to three possible locations on the West Coast, all in California. Now, with the sudden addition of scenic and culturally rich Santa Fe to the mix, a prospect made even more enticing by the Meems’ spectacularly generous offer of such a large parcel of land, Weigle found himself “in a genuine quandary.”
He continues his story:
How was one to arrive at a recommendation which would meet with the approval of the faculty and then would be adopted by the Board of Visitors and Governors? An inspiration came to me on the airplane, as a wise course of action suggested itself. Why not have faculty members visit the four sites and express their opinion? After all, it was the faculty who would have to be relied upon to teach on the new campus. It was they and their families who would have to live in the new community. Upon my return to Annapolis I discussed the matter with Curtis Wilson, then the dean of the College, and he heartily approved of my suggestion….
The Committee of four appointed by the president after consultation with the dean consisted of Douglas Allanbrook, Robert Bart, William A. Darkey, Jr., and Barbara Leonard. Allanbrook had graduated from Harvard and had won a two-year traveling fellowship to study under Nadia Boulanger in Paris. A two-year Fulbright followed, when we he was a pupil of Ruggiero Gerlin in harpsichord and early keyboard music. He joined the St. John’s faculty in 1952. Bart was also a Harvard alumnus, having received the bachelor’s degree there in 1940. He had been named Sheldon Traveling Fellow for one year and had come to St. John’s to teach in 1946. Eleven years later he had received a St. John’s M.A. degree.
Darkey had graduated from St. John’s College in 1942 in the second class under the present program. He had taught at the College for several years before serving in the Unites States Army and earning an M.A. degree from Columbia University. He had joined the St. John’s faculty in 1949. Barbara Leonard came to the College in 1951 after teaching zoology at Smith College for six years. She arrived with the first class to include women and served as a tutor and assistant dean. A graduate of Oberlin College, she held the M.A. and Ph. D. degrees from the University of Rochester. She had done work at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts, and in the department of pathology at the Yale Medical School.
The committee seemed a representative group. Collectively, the four individuals had spent over fifty years at St. John’s. The humanities, science, and music were all represented. Miss Leonard would look at the several sites from a woman’s standpoint, William Darkey from a student’s point of view. There was even a member of the group who opposed the idea of expansion. He felt that the entire country west of the Hudson River should be written off—except for Annapolis!
In the end, after a whirlwind five days in February of 1961, visiting first Santa Fe and then the three California candidate sites in Riverside, Claremont, and Monterey, the site committee made their selection—a unanimous recommendation of Santa Fe. Upon this recommendation, and following a presentation by William Darkey to the full faculty explaining their reasons, the Annapolis faculty voted unanimously to approve the committee’s recommendations and to recommend to the College’s Board of Visitor’s and Governors that Santa Fe be selected as the site for the College’s new campus. The Faculty’s recommendation was approved by the Board at its next regular quarterly meeting on February 22, 1961, presided over by its chairman, Richard Cleveland, a Baltimore attorney and son of former United States President Grover Cleveland, and by early March the planning for the new campus had begun.