The Naropa Board of Trustees has appointed John Whitehouse Cobb, former President of Naropa University from 1993 – 2003, to serve as Acting President, effective October 17, 2011 - July 15, 2012. He was elected to serve on the Board of Trustees as of May 2012.
John Whitehouse Cobb graduated from Harvard College in 1966 and Columbia Law School in 1969. He worked as a VISTA lawyer with Colorado Rural Legal Services, serving migrant farm workers and low income groups. He continued to work in the public sector as a staff attorney for DNA, the Navajo Legal Aid Program in Shiprock, New Mexico, and later as Director of Litigation and Training for Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Bangor, ME (1976-80). Returning to Colorado, he served as the Director of the Colorado Coalition of Legal Services Programs and Western Regional Training Center in Denver from 1980–83 and was a founder of the Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado.
He then was in private practice in Boulder for ten years, until he was appointed President of Naropa University in January, 1993. He served in that capacity until June, 2003, presiding during a time of significant student growth and expansion of programs and physical plant. The Naropa Institute became Naropa University during his tenure. He served on Naropa’s Board of Trustees from 1985 to 2003.
He also designed and taught a course in leadership: "The Art and Ethic of Leadership" in Naropa’s MA Environmental Leadership Program, and "Freedom is Just Another Word: The Evolution of the Bill of Rights" in the college.
He is the author of two books of poetry: Searching for the Moment: Poems on Occasion at Naropa University(fosilpres 2003) and Footnotes to the Inexplicable: A Memoir in Verse (Slickrock Press 2007). He is the proud holder of an honorary MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University.
He is married to Bayard Cobb, and they have a son and two grandchildren. Bayard and John have been actively involved in the establishment of the Peace Studies degree program at Naropa. Their support led the Board of Trustees to create the Bayard and John Cobb Annual Peace Lecture. He continues to teach "Law, Human Rights and Social Change" in Peace Studies.