John Agresto’s academic career has spanned teaching at the University of Toronto, Kenyon College, Duke University, Wabash College, and the New School University. In the late 1970s he was both a scholar and administrator at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina, and in the 1980s he served in both senior administrative and policy positions the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1989, he became President of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, a position he served in for 11 years.
In 2003, Agresto went to Iraq, where he was the Senior Advisor for Higher Education and Scientific Research for the Coalition Provisional Authority. He returned regularly to Iraq over the years, becoming, in 2007, Acting Chancellor, Provost, and Academic Dean at the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani, positions he held until 2010. He was also, at various times, the Lilly Senior Research Fellow at Wabash College, Scholar-in-Residence at Hampden-Sidney College, and Fellow at the Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.
Widely published in the areas of politics, law, and education, Agresto is the author or editor of four books, including Mugged by Reality: The Liberation of Iraq and the Failure of Good Intentions; The Supreme Court and Constitutional Democracy; The Humanist as Citizen: Essays on the Uses of the Humanities; as well as Tomatoes, Basil, and Olive Oil — An Italian American Cookbook.
Though retired, Agresto remains President of John Agresto & Associates, an educational consulting company, and is also a member and former chair of the New Mexico State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.