Few professors have made a more indelible mark on the Honors Program than Dr. Arthur Gianelli. As the second director in the program's history, Dr. Gianelli pioneered initiatives that made it possible for the program to blossom. In fourteen years at its helm, Dr. Gianelli expanded the program’s scope from ten students exclusively from St. John’s College to the university-wide community it is today. Dr. Gianelli’s determined efforts enabled the Honors Program to expand its curriculum to include the whole ofthe University core in all of St. John's schools and colleges. Now, honors students benefit from a cozy special key-access lounge, Uncommon Hours, guest speakers, and cultural events such as walking tours and New York Philharmonic, ballet and opera concerts. Dr. Gianelli was also chairperson of the Philosophy Department for 14 years, well past the typical two 4-year terms a chairperson serves. From 1991-2000, he simultaneously served as both Honors Program Director and Philosophy Chair.
Dr. Gianelli graduated in 1971 with a Ph.D. in philosophy from St John’s University and has been a beloved professor at the university ever since; however, he did not always realize his passion lay in philosophy. He first studied physics and graduated with a B.S. from Georgetown University in 1961, after which he taught physics at Penn State University for four years. He began to realize, however, that his scientific inquiries were increasingly evolving into philosophical reflections and investigations. He followed his passion, thus pursuing his philosophy Ph.D. at St John’s. Physics still plays a large influence on Dr. Gianelli’s philosophical focus though; his research centers in the philosophy of physical science, reflecting his physics roots.
Generations of St. John's undergraduates have been captivated by Dr. Gianelli lectures on the philosophical origins of science. Indeed, he has succeeded in convicing even the most uncompromising undergraduate empiricists that Heliocentric Model and the Big Bang were actually born out of philosophical inquisitions, not scientific ones. His lectures often present metaphysics as an extension of science. Whole decades of honors students continually sing his praises. Dr. Gianelli particulary enjoys teaching honors students and copiously lauds them. His template assessment is that honors students are inquisitive. Their willingness to ask questions and yearning to understand material is refreshing, and he thoroughly enjoys fielding their questions. In addition to metaphysics, Dr. Gianelli also teaches courses in logic and the philosophy of physical science, all in the Honors Program.
When not in the classroom, Dr. Gianelli follows politics. Indeed, he served as delegate to the 1976 Democratic convention. He also enjoys sports and has been a lifelong fan of St John’s basketball. He fondly recalls watching televised games on WPIX since the 1950’s. Dr. Gianelli is married to Barbara Ginalllli. They have two sons; one, Arthur, Jr., is the Chief Executive Officer of Nassau County's University Medical Center and the other, Scott, holds a Ph.D. in Physics.