Celebration of Life for Trisha Hurst

I am writing today to share with you an invitation from Jason Connell, who has asked that I share this with students, staff and faculty:

We would like for you to join us in a Celebration of Life for Trisha Hurst on
Saturday, May 12, 4:30pm to 6:30pm, at Knox College Alumni Hall, Trustee Room.

If you’d like to offer something, Trisha valued live plants over cut flowers or a donation to Knox County Relay for Life http://www.relayforlife.org/knoxil or your favorite charity would also be appreciated.

This is a casual event. Please come, share your pictures, experiences and stories.

Healing through laughter and tears.


Stewart Receives Award

Katie Stewart (Political Science) received the Katherine C. Greenough Award for Best Dissertation of the Year from Indiana University’s Department of Political Science for her dissertation, Contentious Conceptions of We the People: An Analysis of Regional Variation in Russian Nation-building Strategies and Outcomes.

Update on Recent Events

Dear Knox Community,

Over the last two weeks, our community has grappled with serious and difficult issues regarding discrimination, freedom of speech, and identity. While tensions surrounding these matters are always present in a diverse community dedicated to discussion and learning, the most recent issues came to light when a student submitted a bias incident report regarding a series of tweets by a faculty member on his private Twitter page that the student and members of the campus Hillel chapter viewed as anti-Semitic. The College has an obligation and a commitment to respond to all reports of bias and discrimination, so our bias incident team initiated an assessment of the situation, which is ongoing. An email exchange among faculty about the content and intent of the tweets followed on the College faculty and staff listserv. Several days later, on April 18, a Jewish faculty member received an anonymous letter containing vulgar and anti-Semitic content. The bias incident team immediately initiated an additional investigation into this hateful act, which is also in process.

Our most pressing concern at this time is supporting and protecting students and faculty who feel targeted by the anonymous hate mail and by the tweets and email exchanges. The anonymous action is clearly reprehensible, harmful to the individual, and an affront to our values. With regard to the tweets, it is not the College’s practice to follow the personal social media accounts of its faculty or staff members. As an academic institution, we must maintain an unwavering allegiance to the constitutional rights of members of our community, particularly the freedom of speech that is essential for unfettered academic inquiry. Nonetheless, the section on Academic Freedom in the College’s Faculty Handbook notes the special obligations incumbent upon members of the faculty even when speaking as individuals: “to be accurate, to exercise appropriate restraint, to show respect for the opinions of others, and to make every effort to indicate that the individual is not speaking for the College.”

Within the context of protecting academic freedom, however, the College does have an obligation to and a process for investigating allegations of bias incidents reported to us and addressing the extent to which a hostile environment or violation of our policy has occurred. Many members of our community have personal views on the content of the tweets, but the College follows procedural standards in determining whether a violation of our anti-bias policy has occurred. Those standards accord rights and protections to all individuals who are the subject of investigations, and we will scrupulously observe those protections. To that end, the College does not publicly comment on the details of bias investigations while they are in progress. While that process works toward a resolution, the safety of our students, faculty and staff is the College’s top priority, especially in terms of their experiences on campus and their ability to teach and learn in a environment free from bias, harassment or discrimination.

Throughout this time, members of our faculty and staff have spent many hours with the affected students and faculty, listening and providing support as they work to comprehend and respond to the situation. As we have witnessed throughout Knox’s long history, our students have come together to turn seemingly divisive language into an opportunity for understanding and a greater sense of inclusivity on our campus. The Student Senate invited Hillel to discuss the situation at a recent Senate meeting, and students of many racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds have expressed their support for their fellow students. Hillel is currently in the process of planning a dialogue to discuss how to confront and combat hate, and the Student Senate is encouraging our campus to come together in support of such community-building events. The College will do all that it can to support our students in their efforts to move beyond forums such as Twitter and email that do not allow for nuanced dialogue and to promote open, respectful, and meaningful discussions.

Campuses and communities across the nation have witnessed bias incidents and experienced a breakdown of dialogue and communication in recent years. The FBI has reported that nearly all classes of hate crimes have increased since 2016, including crimes against Jews, Muslims, African Americans, LGBTQ individuals and immigrants. Sadly, hate crimes in schools, colleges and universities are rising as well. While we recognize that these crimes are significantly underreported, even one hate crime is too many. Hate has no home at Knox College. In this environment, we are all called to stand up for our values, to reject hateful speech and actions, and to affirm our support for those targeted by hate as we work to build an inclusive and respectful campus in which to live and learn.



Anonymous Hate Mail Incident on Campus

Dear Knox Community,
Earlier today, we were made aware of a bias incident against a member of our community. The individual received an anonymous note that contained vulgar images and hateful language. This anonymous action is reprehensible and harmful to the individual, and an affront to the values that we as an institution hold dear: respect, empathy, decency, and inclusivity.
We are initiating an immediate investigation into this incident. If you have any knowledge of or information regarding the situation, please let us know immediately. You can submit information via the Anonymous Report Form or contact Campus Safety directly at 309-341-7979.
Like many communities across the country, we have witnessed bias incidents in recent years. In this environment, we are called upon to stand up for our values, to reject hateful speech and actions, and to affirm our support for those targeted by this hate. I call upon each and every one of us actively to demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive and respectful campus community. 
Teresa L. Amott

Innovate Knox Initiative Update

Dear Knox Community,

Earlier this year, we asked you to share with us your ideas on ways to improve Knox. We called this initiative Innovate Knox. We received numerous submissions and have selected four proposals. As stated in the submission guidelines, preference was given to initiatives that will lead to revenue enhancement, improve efficiency and productivity, and/or lead to significant cost savings. Funding for the Innovate Knox initiative was provided by a one-time $100,000 endowment draw authorized by the Knox College Board of Trustees.

We received 12 proposals from members of the Knox community, ranging from ideas on how to improve operational efficiency to new areas of potential growth in our admission efforts. Throughout February and March, we reviewed the proposals, sought additional information when needed, and reviewed them once again, ultimately choosing to move forward with four:

Energy Audit—Knox has had two energy audits in the past 20 years, with the most recent in 2006. Suggestions from those audits have been implemented on campus resulting in successful reductions in energy costs, but updates in energy-efficient technologies and the effects of time on our buildings mean that an updated energy audit could lead to new opportunities for energy cost savings.

Knox GROW—a program to engage the more than 100 hourly and salaried supervisory staff and their roughly 600 student workers in ongoing dialogues designed to identify and reinforce transferable skills learned by students on the job. Its intent is to promote job productivity and satisfaction for both Knox staff and students. Planned implementation of the program will begin with the Seymour Library staff.

Human Resources Software—this is a cloud-based software system that will help streamline a host of record-keeping processes within Human Resources, including applicant tracking, time-off requests and tracking, electronic signatures and document completion and storage, employee onboarding, workflows, and performance management (future), saving the College both time and money.

International Recruitment—the College currently has one full‐time admission counselor to work with more than 600 international applicants each year (up from 250 applicants 10 years ago). By adding an additional international admission officer, we will be able to more fully realize the potential of the international market, especially in growing areas like China and Southeast Asia, with the goal of enrolling 5-10 more students each year.

While there are four proposals that will be funded, we are exploring the implementation of some of the other proposals through other avenues. We will keep you informed on the development and progress of the four proposals that received funding.

Thanks to all who submitted proposals. The imagination, creativity, and ingenuity of the Knox community never fails to inspire us.


Senior Staff

Creating Inclusive Organizations: invitation to participate in trainings

Dear Staff and Faculty,

The Senior Staff and the Center for Intercultural Life encourage you to come together for two opportunities focused on creating an inclusive, socially just campus community. The presenter at these opportunities will join us online but the Knox participants will be together in a room to be designated once we know how many people have signed up.

On Thursday, April 26 and Thursday, May 17 (both from 11am-2pm) social justice educator Dr. Kathy O’Bear will facilitate two virtual trainings that will provide us with knowledge and skills needed to create meaningful and sustainable organizational change. Obear has over 30 years of experience as an organizational development consultant and trainer specializing in creating inclusion, team and organizational effectiveness, conflict resolution, and change management.

Specifically, participants in these virtual institutes will:

–use an Inclusion Lens to engage in authentic dialogue about the current climate on campus;

–apply the Multicultural Organizational Development Model and identify critical Inclusive Indicators of a multicultural organizations;

–identify fundamental multicultural competencies for students, staff, and faculty;

–review and consider specific strategic actions that support organizational movement toward becoming a more inclusive and socially just campus; and

–determine next steps for creating greater inclusion and social justice within one’s spheres of influence.

You may participate in either or both of these virtual training institutes. Please RSVP to Tianna Cervantez at tcervant@knox.edu by Thursday, April 19. Meeting locations will be shared soon, and lunch will be provided. If you have any additional questions, please ask Tianna.

Additionally, free 70-minute introductory webinars are available two weeks prior to each institute (Thursday, April 12 and Thursday, May 3–both at 11am). The webinars–which you may listen to on your own at any location–provide a useful primer for those of us participating in the institutes. You can also participate in the webinars if you are unable to participate in the institutes. Register on your own for the April 12 free webinar here. (Registration for the May 3 webinar will be available soon.)

In order to provide this opportunity to all who wish to participate, supervisors are encouraged to accommodate this important request.



2018 Physics Prize Problem is out!

The 2018 Physics Prize Problem is out! The Porter Prize is funded by Carroll Porter ’32, and is awarded annually for the best solution to a complex physical problem. This year’s mind-boggling physics problem concerns a planetary interloper scattering from an originally stable solar system. Check out a detailed statement of the problem, posted around SMC or available at http://course.knox.edu/physics130. Any Knox student may submit a solution. Turn in your solution to Prof. Tom Moses, D110 SMC, by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1 and win a place in Knox history (and a cash prize).

Ucar Gave Presentation at Conference

Nurettin Ucar (Modern Languages – German) gave a presentation at the International Conference of Europeanists in Chicago on March 28. His paper, “Empathy and Willkommenskultur: Projecting Germany’s Past onto Her Present”, was part of a panel entitled “Contending with Social, Economic, and Political Movements in Germany’s Past and Present”. Ucar discussed whether Germany’s past could be a representational paradigm for understanding the empathy shown to refugees now.