Vir Das ’02 is 2018 Commencement Speaker

Dear Knox Community,

I am delighted to share the good news that we have a Commencement speaker—India’s premier comedian and Knox alumnus Vir Das ’02.

Since graduating from Knox in 2002, Vir has cemented himself as the biggest English-speaking comedian in India, as well as one of the country’s top actors, writers, musicians, and festival producers. Thanks to his Netflix comedy special, Vir Das: Abroad Understanding, and a recently announced Hulu comedy series, he is poised to break into the American entertainment world with his unique brand of humor.

Featured in The New York Times in 2011 as a one of a new set of emerging comedians in India, Vir is known for bringing an American style to topics rooted in contemporary Indian culture. Over the course of his career, he has sold more than a million tickets as a stand-up comedian, touring internationally with Unbelievablish, the largest domestic comedy tour ever by an Indian comedian; The History of India; and Battle of the Sexes. In the last year, Vir has traversed the globe, performing stand-up in 35 cities on five continents. He has also climbed the ranks of the Bollywood elite in various films, including BadMaash Company; Delhi Belly; Go, Goa, Gone; and Revolver Rani, gaining a reputation as a leading man with impeccable comedic chops. In addition to stand-up and acting, Vir leads his own multimedia consulting and production company, Weirdass Comedy.

While I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Vir while he was a student at Knox, I have enjoyed watching the trajectory of his career both in his home country of India and here in the United States. You can see in his approach to his comedic work, from stand-up and acting to writing and producing, that he is adept at navigating across cultures and overcoming stereotypes to provide his audiences with new perspectives on complicated issues and events.

I am particularly excited to make this announcement today, during Knox’s annual international week. Knox welcomed the first international student to campus in 1863, and, more than 150 years later, international students make up nearly 20 percent of our student body and come from 51 countries. Announcing an international alumnus as our Commencement speaker is a wonderful addition to the celebration of our vibrant international community.

You can read more about Vir on the College’s website.



Nick Adams Short Story Entries Deadline is Jan. 26

The English Department invites entries for the The NICK ADAMS SHORT STORY CONTEST 2018

(an annual contest sponsored by the ACM and dating back to 1973)


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 Do not share the file on google drive.

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


Entries must be received electronically (.doc or .docx only to by Thursday, January 26 by 4 p.m.


For more information on the history of the contest, and to read about this year’s judge who will be announced soon, see the ACM’s website here.

Please direct questions to Chad Simpson ( ext. 7408) or Cyn Fitch (, ext. 7269).

Martin Luther King Day Convocation – Shortened Class Schedule

The annual celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be held Monday, January 15, at 11:00 a.m. in Harbach Theatre, CFA. On that day, the College will follow the Convocation class schedule below.

Class periods are shortened as follows.

1st period……..8:00 – 8:45 am

2nd period…….8:55 – 9:40 am

3rd period…….9:50 – 10:35 am

Convocation – 11:00 am

4th period…….1:20 – 2:05 pm

5th period…….2:15 – 3:00 pm

6th period…….3:10 – 3:55 pm

Innovate Knox Initiative

Dear Knox Community,

Great ideas come from anywhere. In that spirit, the Board of Trustees has authorized a one-time $100,000 endowment draw to fund the Innovate Knox Initiative. The purpose of this fund is to elicit ideas and provide funding for initiatives that bring innovation to our work at Knox.

We are particularly interested in ideas that will lead to new sources of revenue, enhance existing ones, improve operational efficiency and productivity, and/or lead to significant cost savings. In this way, we seek to leverage the imagination, creativity, and ingenuity of the entire Knox community of staff, faculty, and students.

The allocation of funds and the number of awards is entirely dependent upon the merits of the proposals. Preference will given to proposals and initiatives that have the potential to become self-sustaining within three years. Collaborative proposals that involve multiple perspectives are likely to be most successful, but individual proposals are certainly welcome. Students submitting proposals should obtain a tenured or tenure-track member of the faculty or a staff member to co-sponsor the proposal to insure continuity if the proposal is selected.

Applications to the Innovate Knox Initiative should be submitted by February 2, 2018.

For more information, to see sample proposals, or to submit your proposal, visit

Senior Staff

Be There! Women’s Soccer Team Send-Off, Nov. 9

The Midwest Conference Champion Prairie Fire women’s soccer team is heading to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row! They are scheduled to take on Wheaton College (IL) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 10 at Loras College.

Please join us TODAY, Thursday, November 9 at 12:15 p.m. along the front drive of Alumni Hall to give the team an enthusiastic send-off as they depart campus for Dubuque, Iowa.

Hope to see you there!

Go Fire!

Affirming our Commitment to Title IX

Dear Knox Community,

Last week, the Office of Civil Rights of the U. S. Department of Education announced changes in Title IX procedures, rescinding Obama-era guidance from 2011 and 2014. The department also issued a new Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct and announced a notice and comment process for gathering feedback from the public. Although we are still reviewing these changes and will continue to monitor further developments, the core mandate of Title IX remains: providing a prompt, equitable process for resolving complaints of sex discrimination, including complaints of sexual misconduct.

I write today to affirm Knox College’s commitment to that core Title IX mandate and to nurturing the underlying culture of respect necessary for an educational environment of equity and inclusion. We are confident our current Policy and Procedures related to sex discrimination, sexual misconduct, and interpersonal violence provide an equitable process for all parties—and these remain in effect. We will also continue to observe the requirements set forth by the State of Illinois for all institutions of higher education, including the use of the preponderance of evidence standard (established as part of the Illinois Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act), as well as the requirements under the VAWA Amendments to the Clery Act.

Throughout the early weeks of this term, we have engaged new and returning students and employees in the project of building the Knox culture of respect. Through interactive online programs, in workshops led by peer educators and staff, and working in partnership with RAs, OLs, SPARK Mentors, Admission Ambassadors, and student leaders in Greek Life, Athletics, and Student Organizations, we continue our efforts to prevent all forms of sexual misconduct on our campus. As President Amott, Interim Dean of the College Mike Schneider, and Vice President for Student Development Anne Ehrlich said in their comments to open the year, let all of us at Knox help ensure that this College is one that has no tolerance for sexual violence by holding ourselves and each other accountable for our actions.

If you have any questions about the College’s commitment to Title IX, please contact me. Additional information and resources are available online here.

Kimberly K. Schrader
Title IX Coordinator

For All Student String Players

From Bruce Polay:

First, congratulations on coming to Knox or welcome back! For first-year folks, you will find this to be an outstanding campus that allows you much individualized opportunity in both your academic interests and what we call “co-curricular” activities.

RE the Knox-Galesburg Symphony, please contact me so that we can set up an audition. We have openings in violin, viola, cello, bass, and percussion. As for repertoire, it would be great if you could play some short excerpts from a couple of different styles, classical and romantic are the best representatives. Please don’t worry about playing a concerto unless you are planning to excerpt from one that you have already learned.

RE the Knox College String Ensemble, it is open to all string playing students without audition. Directed by Carolyn Suda, principal cello of the KGS. Unfortunately, SE will not be available until winter term. You may contact Carolyn Suda at or for further information.

I look forward to meeting you and, of course, to hearing you play. You might also consider private violin or viola instruction with my wife Louise who is the concertmaster of the KGS, or cello from Mrs. Suda.

Thoughts on the Opening of the Academic Year

Dear Knox Community,

We start this new academic year burdened by current events that affect us all. In Charlottesville, we witnessed white supremacist violence and hatred. Changes in federal policy threaten to erode hard-won gains of Dreamers, transgender people, and survivors of sexual violence. Acts of terrorism and human rights violations continue around the world. Millions are imperiled by natural disasters across the planet, and famine stalks millions more.

In the face of these events, we call on every Knox community member to uphold our mission and values. We all share the responsibility for creating a culture of respect that affirms and protects the dignity and rights of every human being, regardless of their identities and locations on the planet. In our classrooms, offices, living spaces, playing fields, and performance spaces, let us all:

Challenge ourselves to create a place where diversity is accompanied by respect, inclusion, and full and equitable participation in every educational opportunity.

Recognize that we may benefit from privilege because of aspects of our identity such as our race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, age, background, beliefs, or ability.

Build bridges across difference, listen respectfully to voices with which we disagree, and transform ourselves so that society, in turn, may be transformed.

Take action for social and political change by advocating for the causes you believe in, standing with those you care about, and letting your voice be heard.

Tensions will inevitably arise in a remarkably diverse environment like ours. The privileges afforded to many of us are often hard to acknowledge, much less relinquish. And speech with which we disagree can be difficult to hear. These are the critical challenges of our educational mission, and so we ask that all of us at Knox—students, faculty, and staff alike—help ensure that this College is a truly inclusive and equitable community, one that welcomes disagreement, dialogue, and debate, but has no tolerance for hatred, intimidation, or violence.

While Knox has a storied history, one rooted in the ideals of our founders who spoke out against slavery and aspired to make higher education accessible to all, let us honor this history by holding ourselves and each other accountable for our actions in this present moment. This is the work of moral leadership to which we invite you.


Teresa L. Amott, President

Michael A. Schneider, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs

Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for Student Development

P.S. As we greet both new and familiar faces to Knox in the coming weeks, please take a moment to check in with each other and reach out to those who have been impacted by recent events. And always remember that whether you call the Knox campus home for four years or for 40, you are a valued member of our community.

Call for Bookfellow Prize Submissions

Seymour Library awards the Bookfellow Prize each year to the Knox student who has completed the course assignment or senior research/honors project showing the most sophisticated and productive application of the library’s collections and resources to his or her research topic or creative project. In awarding the prize, we look for projects showing evidence of

*a successful research strategy that has identified a variety of relevant primary and secondary sources in multiple publishing formats;
*the application of library resources to a clearly stated and successfully argued thesis or hypothesis, or to a successfully realized creative project;
*consistent and thorough citation and documentation of library resources applied to the project.

The Bookfellow Prize is open to all students in all disciplines for work completed not earlier than the 2016 spring term. The 2016 Bookfellow Prize was awarded to Becky Hixon for her honors project “The Makings of a Man: Masculinity in Shakespeare’s Second Historical Tetralogy.”

Papers may be submitted through Friday, May 5, to Tanna Cullen in the Director’s office, Seymour Library. The prize will be awarded at the 2017 honors reception on Thursday, May 18.

2017 Davenport Fiction Contest Deadline, April 19

The English Department Announces The 2017 Davenport Fiction Contest


Entries are now being accepted for the annual Davenport Prize in Fiction sponsored by the English Department.


1) entrants must be in “good standing” but need not be English majors or enrolled in an English course; students who completed coursework on campus during the 2016-17 school year, but have not yet commenced and are not currently enrolled are eligible to submit, provided they will be commencing from Knox in June;

2) only one story per author is allowed;

3) submitted stories need not be written especially for the contest, but cannot have been previously published off campus (note that publication on-campus does not exclude a story from entry); no story that has received a prize in a Knox contest may be submitted to any subsequent contest, although a rejected manuscript may be submitted a second time; any story currently under review for another prize may be submitted;

4) each submission must include a title page or cover sheet with the author’s name and complete contact information, as well as the title of the story; please leave name off subsequent pages;

5) each submission should be double-spaced and paginated;

6) each submitted manuscript is limited to 10,000 words;

7) only original work by the contestant may be entered (translations are not eligible);

8) all entries must be submitted in hardcopy to Cyn Fitch’s office (Old Main 217) no later than Wednesday, April 19 by 4 p.m. If you have questions about the submission guidelines, contact Cyn Fitch .

[Note: Cash prizes are determined by the English Department, in consultation with the judge’s recommendations for awards. As well, the prize-winning manuscripts each year will be retained by the college and may be published on the English Department’s website.]


This year’s playwriting judge is Knox alumna Rachel Hall.

Rachel Hall ’86 is the author of Heirlooms, (BkMk Press, 2016) which was selected by Marge Piercy for the G.S. Sharat Chandra book prize. Hall’s recent work appears in Natural Bridge, Bellingham Review, Crab Orchard Review, Midwestern Gothic, and Lilith, which awarded her the 2016 fiction prize. She teaches creative writing and literature at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where she holds the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Prizewinners will be announced at Hall’s Caxton Club reading on Friday, May 12 at
4 p.m. in the Alumni Room, Old Main.