Graduates choose Focus Features CEO to speak
At St. John’s, the senior class selects the commencement speaker. A student committee comprised of a group of seniors invited James Schamus, CEO of Focus Features and professor of professional practice at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, to address this year’s Annapolis graduates. “We chose Dr. Schamus as our commencement speaker because his work as both a professor and a film executive seemed to be a paradigm for the kind of balance between an inner and outer life that we hope to achieve in the coming years,” says Annapolis senior Michael Fogelman.
Schamus’ speech is titled, “Commencement Speeches and Commencement Acts.” The St. John’s 221st commencement ceremony will be held on the college’s front lawn on Sunday, May 12 at 10:30 a.m. In case of rain, commencement exercises will take place in Francis Scott Key Auditorium.
As a teacher of film history and theory, Schamus navigates from thoughtful conversations on Plato with his students to challenges as head of a successful movie studio; he was profiled in the New York Times Magazine. His prolific career as a film executive includes credits as producer (Brokeback Mountain) and award-winning screenwriter (The Ice Storm). Schamus is also a published film historian and theorist, and author of Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word published by the University of Washington Press. He attended a few institutions, including St. John’s College, in the 1980s before receiving his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.