Knox College President Teresa Amott came into office this year with a new list of priorities to help strengthen the college and move it forward into the future.
Amott’s seemingly biggest goal is the renovation of Alumni Hall, and subsequently it has seen the most concrete success so far. The building, which has lain dormant since 1978, has seen a larger step in its renovation in the last four months than in the last four years. It has loomed over the campus, and the renovation will provide another reason to be proud of the college and give us more reason to give back to the school after we graduate.
The success in donations so far is not only due to the work of Amott, but the generosity of the alumni who have moved us closer to the final goal. This includes the great support from Gerald and Carol Vovis ’65, who have donated $1.5 million towards the renovation. Without great support from these alumni, we would be no closer to the goal than we were 10 years ago.
It is important to note that the previous president, Roger Taylor ’63, had his own set of goals that brought the school out of the dark ages of the 90s and set up the stage for Amott to bring forth the goals she has set. Without his work, Amott would still be focused on financial impregnability more than any other issue facing the school.
While Amott has moved the renovation of Alumni Hall further than during Taylor’s 11 years at the school, she should not forget about the other three goals, namely moving further toward environmental sustainability, improving Knox-Galesburg relations and formulating a strategic plan. These goals could easily become trite without any concrete ambitions and Amott should avoid this at all costs.
The three other goals have yet to see any concrete plans per se, but the nature of the goals doesn’t lend itself to ideas as solid as the renovation of a building. Amott needs to bring forth more concrete plans to these goals as she becomes more knowledgeable about the college. Without more concrete plans, the goals will quickly become stagnant and simply something to keep shooting for without actually achieving results.
Her goal of improving the Knox-Galesburg relationship is an appropriate one, since that area has always been in need of improvement. While we do a great job with philanthropy and other events to help the Galesburg community, there still remains a somewhat unjust fear of the Galesburg community that needs to be dealt with through events and projects by Knox students to help the Galesburg area.
The setting of the strategic plan will help the campus become dynamic in the coming years. It will be interesting what becomes of the plan and in what areas Amott hopes to improve the campus. Amott should be careful not to demolish the size and culture of the campus in order to stabilize the campus financially.
The environmental plan stands more as an idea than an action as of yet, and it will be interesting to see where the school decides to focus the environmental policy. Amott has put focus on student awareness of environmental issues, but students already have a large focus on the environment compared to other college students. The real focus needs to be on how the administration and their energy can be used to more efficiently reduce the college’s environmental footprint.
The success of one goal will benefit the others and the success of all goals will certainly move the college forward. The one worry is the possibility of a few goals becoming shallow in success and importance in the eyes of Amott. We implore that the goals get equal energy and time. Also goals should change with the success of old goals and the changing landscape of Knox from year to year and not become stagnant, which we have seen in the past.