By Janet Angulo
Philip LeCuyer, born in 1944, grew up in Wyoming and rural Colorado. He graduated from Colorado College in 1966, and then studied for three more years at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. After working in Germany he returned to America and in 1972 joined the faculty of St. John’s College on its Santa Fe campus, just 8 years after its founding in 1964.
Although all tutors at St. John’s are first and foremost model students, Mr. LeCuyer considers himself to truly be “living the life of a junior” this year as his tutor schedule consists of a junior language tutorial, a junior laboratory, as well as a junior seminar.
Mr. LeCuyer has rotated through the whole of the undergraduate program roughly six or seven times by now, but when I asked him what his favorite class is, he told me that he has not developed a preference for any part of the program. He must have sensed my confusion at his response because he continued to explain that his lack of preference is not due to the difficulty found in choosing just one subject matter, but that what he keeps with him through the years are memories of his students and how they have helped him learn. Rest assured though, Mr. LeCuyer does have a favorite book: The Book of Exodus. Why? He sees the concept of liberation and freedom in this text as being so intrinsically related to how we live our lives and cannot seem to shake this connection.
Any student who has had the pleasure of being in class with Mr. LeCuyer knows that his memory is keen and will be acquainted with his gift of storytelling. I am in Mr. LeCuyer’s junior language tutorial this year and almost every one of our classes starts with some small talk relating to current events and eventually calls for a personal story or an account about an old friend. At the beginning of the fall semester, he told us the story of when he was on a road trip with his father and said to him “j’ai femme”, I have a wife, instead of “j’ai faim”, I am hungry, to warn us of the subtlety in French pronunciation. This is just one example of Mr. LeCuyer’s colorful stories and “real-world” experiences. Ask around, you’re bound to hear some more.
Fun Facts about Mr. LeCuyer:
-During his forty-five years as a member of the St. John’s community he also (for 25 of those years) worked an 80-acre organic farm and ran a grain business
-Mr. LeCuyer designed and built his own solar adobe home.
–Mr. LeCuyer started Learning Navajo language in the summer of 2016: He has an interest in the aesthetic aspects of the culture and how they correlate in the language. “There is no center in a tapestry, it is unique everywhere”-Mr. Lecuyer
-Mr. LeCuyer has written five performance pieces during the years 2000 to 2015. Two of them, To Strike the World and Involuntary Speech, have had fully staged productions at the College, and all but the most recent one have been given staged readings by the Honors College at the University of New Mexico. These five dramatic works are scheduled to be published by Pagescape Press in the near future. -He and his wife Joy live in Santa Fe where he continues as a tutor at St. John’s. When the College is not in session they live in New York City.