Stringfellow Barr, 85, an author and educator who founded a Great Books program while president of St. John's College in Annapolis, died of pneumonia Feb. 3 at the Goodwin House nursing home in Alexandria. He had lived at the home since 1978.

Mr. Barr was president of St. John's from 1937 to 1946. In collaboration with Scott Buchanan, who was dean of the college, he established the Great Books program, a mandatory study plan modeled on courses taught at Columbia University and the University of Chicago. The new fixed curriculum was comprised of courses based on about 130 noted books and writings. They replaced the more usual system of instruction in major and minor subjects in which students can choose their courses.

St. John's retains this curriculum as the basis of a broad liberal arts education.

A social activist as well as an educator, Mr. Barr aroused a controversy in 1950 when he signed an appeal to President Harry Truman calling for amnesty for convicted U.S. Communist Party leaders. He also criticized Virginia's lack of integration in the early 1950s.

Mr. Barr was born in Suffolk, Va. He served in the Army during World War I. He was a graduate of the University of Virginia and studied at the Sorbonne and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar.

He was a professor of history at the University of Virginia from 1924 to 1936. Later he returned to Charlottesville with the Foundation for World Government, which he headed from 1948 to 1958, and taught political science as a visiting professor. He also taught at the University of Chicago and Rutgers University.

From 1966 until 1969, he was a fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, Calif.

He wrote 11 books, including several histories and "Purely Academic," a novel.

His wife, Gladys Baldwin Barr, died in 1974. He leaves no immediate survivors.