2019 Physics Prize Problem

The 2019 Physics Prize Problem is out!  The Physics Prize Problem is funded by Carroll Porter, ’32 and in memory of Edgar L Andreas ’69, and is awarded annually for the best solution to a complex physical problem.  This year’s mind-boggling physics problem concerns the oscillations of a teeter-totter. 

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, D116 SMC, by 4 p.m. on April 29 and win a place in Knox history (and a cash prize).

Conner, Sarkisian Paper Accepted

Christopher T. Conner, visiting assistant professor of anthropology-sociology, and Eden Sarkisian ’19 have had their paper titled,  “Comparisons in Rural and Urban Gay Identity,” accepted to the Midwest Sociological Society Annual Meeting, to be held this March in Chicago. This project was funded, in part, by a Knox COFER grant. The two have helped organize three sessions titled: “The Struggle is Real:  Neo-Bohemias, Gayborhoods, and Beyond”; “We Own The Night”; and “Forgotten Founders and Other Social Theorists.” Papers presented in this session will be accepted for publication in a forthcoming guest edited journal by Conner. Additionally, Conner is also an active member who serves on  two MSS committees. View preliminary program information.

Nick Adams Short Story Contest Deadline January 25

The English Department invites student entries for the 2019 Nick Adams Short Story Contest, an annual contest sponsored by the ACM and dating back to 1973.

Submission Criteria:

1. Entrants must be enrolled students in good standing at Knox but need not be English majors or enrolled in an English course.

2. Submissions are limited to one story per author.

3. Submitted stories need not be written especially for the contest, but stories cannot have been previously published off campus. (Note: publication in an on-campus journal or winning an on-campus prize does not exclude a story from entry.)  

4. Entries must be double-spaced and paginated. Each submission must also include, as part of the same document, a title page with the author’s name, complete contact information, and the title of the story. Do not include your name in headers/footers on the story proper.

5. Please save file as YourName.doc or YourName.docx, and submit as an attachment to csimpson@knox.edu. Do not share the file on Google Drive.

6. Each submitted manuscript is limited to 10,000 words.  

Deadline:

Entries must be received electronically (.doc or .docx only to csimpson@knox.edu) by Friday, January 25, by 4:00. For more information on the history of the contest, and to read about this year’s judge, see the ACM’s website. Please direct questions to Professor Chad Simpson (csimpson@knox.edu) or Professor Cyn Fitch (clfitch@knox.edu).

Title IX Update

Dear Knox Community,

I am writing to share some important news. Knox and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education recently entered into a resolution agreement resolving six Title IX complaints that included allegations regarding the College’s response to reports of sexual misconduct.

As part of its extensive investigation that began in early 2014, the OCR carefully reviewed a substantial amount of information, including the College’s policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct and other forms of sex discrimination; information provided by students and College representatives; and information regarding the Title IX training provided to the College community. As a result of its investigation, the OCR identified concerns regarding delays in processing some of the complaints included in the resolution agreement and some concerns with the College’s Title IX policies and grievance procedures in effect at that time. The OCR specifically noted, however, that the “College recognized and took affirmative steps to address and resolve” these concerns. In light of the commitments the College has made in the resolution agreement, OCR has determined that it is appropriate to close the investigative phase and resolve these complaints with an agreement.

The affirmative steps that the College had taken before entering into this agreement with the OCR include:

Revising the campus grievance procedures to replace the grievance panel with a model that utilizes a trained, trauma-informed investigator;

Increased support and expanded programming for parties involved in the investigation and resolution of reports of sexual misconduct, including the addition of personnel who are confidential resources on campus and clarification of available interim and protective measures;

Significantly expanding primary prevention and risk reduction awareness education for students, faculty, and staff, including annual and ongoing training opportunities for all members of the Knox community, as well as bystander intervention training and specialized training for those addressing reports of sexual misconduct;

In the resolution agreement with OCR, the College affirms our commitment to maintaining and disseminating our Title IX policies and procedures and operating our programs and activities in compliance with Title IX. The College also affirms our commitment to a comprehensive education and prevention program that informs the College community with ongoing efforts to strengthen individual knowledge and skills, specifically agreeing to:

Deliver annual and ongoing education and training programs to employees and students and report on these programs to the OCR by June 30, 2019;

Send individual letters to the students involved in the complaints covered by the resolution agreement “explaining the ways in which [the College’s] grievance process has been revised to meet the Title IX requirements for complainants and respondents, and . . . offer each student an opportunity to meet to share concerns regarding their respective experiences” by September 15, 2018.

In addition to the complaints covered by the resolution agreement, the OCR has notified the College of the outcome in three other matters: one matter was administratively closed by the OCR, one was dismissed by the OCR because comparable allegations had been raised in a lawsuit that was resolved in the College’s favor, and in one the OCR determined that the evidence collected during OCR’s investigation did not establish a violation of Title IX. We are awaiting the outcome of three additional Title IX complaints filed with OCR and will update the community when more information is available.

The improvements we have made over the past few years at Knox are powered in large measure by student-driven initiatives. I want to thank the students who participated in the OCR’s investigation for their determination to change our College for good. Without their bravery, we could not have reached this point in our community’s continuing journey toward eliminating discrimination and harassment. We are also deeply indebted to the OCR and Knox staff whose dedication and expertise make it possible for the College to provide fair, prompt and equitable responses to these difficult matters.

The resolution of these complaints does not end the work of ensuring that our actions match our values. I know I speak for all of us at Knox in recognizing that a respectful and safe learning community is a shared responsibility and in committing ourselves to that essential work.

Teresa L. Amott
President

New General Manager for Knox Dining Services

Dear Knox Community,

Knox College and Bon Appetit Management Company are pleased to announce that we have selected Douglas Stenfeldt as General Manager for Dining Services at Knox College. Doug comes to us with more than 20 years experience in higher education food service. He grew up locally in Aledo, IL, and graduated from Monmouth College. He is enjoying the opportunity to come back to his roots and be with his family who live in and around the area. Doug ​impressed us with his passion for great food ​ and commitment to college students, and he ​looks forward to building deeper relationships with the campus community​ and enhancing the quality of food service at Knox​. Join us in welcoming Doug to the Knox ​ community and stop by the Gizmo in the coming weeks to meet him in person. As we transition to new management, I want to extend my thanks to Mark Daniels for serving us so ably in the interim period.

Best,

Teresa

Campus Update

Dear Knox Community,

Over the last month, the College has been working to address reports of hate speech and issues of inclusivity and academic freedom that have arisen in the context of two bias investigations. I write today to provide an update on the status of the investigations and to offer some additional thoughts to help us move forward. Over the coming academic year, we will revisit many of these issues as we examine how to address them in the context of College policies and practices.

I have heard from dozens of alumni, parents, and others who have urged that the College respond more quickly and publicly to these events. Their concern arises from their deep attachment to the College’s core values and their fears that we may fail to uphold those values in this charged environment. I came to Knox because of those values and, as president, I feel the weight of responsibility for protecting them. I am also charged with upholding the integrity of our institutional processes.

In accordance with these commitments, the College undertook investigations under our established protocols into postings on a visiting instructor’s Twitter account and an anonymous flyer slipped under a different faculty member’s office door. We can all agree that Twitter is not a medium for nuanced scholarly discourse, and many of us, myself included, believe that the tweets reference anti-Semitic themes and stereotypes. Some view the investigation into the tweets as unnecessary, frustrating, or an abdication of our responsibility to call out unacceptable and offensive statements, but we are committed to adhering to procedural standards. If there is a finding that a faculty member has violated College standards, only then can there be corrective action from a range of measures.

I can report now that the investigation into the tweets is complete and that actions have been taken that are consistent with our expectation that all Knox faculty adhere to the College’s standards of faculty responsibility as articulated in the Faculty Handbook. The College does not comment publicly on specific personnel actions, but I can assure you that we have worked carefully to strike the right balance between our unwavering expectation that the learning environment be free of bias and harassment and our long-standing respect for academic freedom.

In addition, the investigation into the responsibility for the anonymous flyer continues. We will quickly pursue any new leads as they become available.

We continue to develop community-wide initiatives to ensure that our students, faculty, and staff feel safe and engaged at Knox. Our director of spiritual life has organized interfaith gatherings as part of new programming made possible by that position. A recent campus dialogue hosted by a Jewish student organization is another example of our community’s work toward strengthening the response to incidents of concern. And since spring 2017, many members of our community have been working closely with the Galesburg United Against Hate group to foster a community that is free from bias and hatred.

There is no doubt that Knox College is a diverse community, but all of us—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parents alike—must work hard to build an inclusive and equitable community. The work to combat hatred and to educate ourselves to see beyond stereotypes will not be easy or quick. I am committed to that work and will continue to encourage vigorous debate and dialogue on the contentious issues of the day, whether they be the boundaries of private speech, the campus as a safe space, the necessity for academic freedom, or the role of social media in our personal and professional lives. It is through this work that we become a better institution tomorrow than we are today.

Sincerely,

Teresa L. Amott
President

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.

Teresa

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.

Sincerely,

Teresa

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.

Sincerely,

Senior Staff

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).