Before attending Knox College, Dr. James Goril ’76 never imagined becoming a dentist. As Goril prepares for retirement, he believes he owes much of his good fortune in dentistry to his alma mater. He cites the guidance of his former advisor, his well-rounded education and the values of Knox’s honor code as major influences in his success.
“[Before Knox] I wasn’t on any track,” Goril said with a laugh. “I was off the track; I had no idea what I was gonna do.”
During his time at Knox, Goril pursued a chemistry major, but for the bulk of his college years he had no post-graduation plans. According to Goril, this was commonplace among individuals who pursued a higher education in the 70s.
It wasn’t until his senior year in college that he discovered that a career in dentistry might suit him, thanks to his advisor Dr. Leland Harris. Dr. Harris arranged for Goril to shadow a number of vocations for a day, including a physician, chemical engineer, industrial chemist and dentist.
“I liked what the dentist was doing; he used his science background to some extent and he got to use his hands. He was kinda crafty, and he was his own bossÐhe could name his own hours. I’d never considered being a dentist before then,” Goril said.
Even though he was a chemistry major, he was able to gain a broad spectrum of knowledge from numerous English and History classes. He never took a class that he didn’t get something valuable out of. Goril remarked that one of the greatest things about his liberal arts experience at Knox was the versatility it gave him in the working world.
“Get a well-rounded education at Knox. You have to be able to adapt. I mean, I didn’t plan on being a dentistÐI was a senior,” Goril said. “It wasn’t like I was taking a lot of courses geared toward dentistry, but I was well-rounded enough to be able to adapt when I got out, and it seemed to work pretty well.”
The unique honor code at Knox College was another element that made an impact on Goril during his time here. The code instilled a mentality of integrity which he’s carried with him for many years.
“I think that [the Honor Code] had a very positive effect on me, because I think you realize you’re not hurting anyone but yourself if you’re gonna cheat on the test. Following the honor system set me on track with my career,” Goril said. “I was always honest with people, and didn’t take any shortcuts. I think [Knox] had [students] grow up and take responsibility early on, and that was a good thing.”
In addition to finding his path in life, Goril engaged in numerous on-campus activities during his time at Knox. Besides studying chemistry, he spent much of his free time as a teacher’s assistant and playing rock music as a disc jockey for WVKC. Goril’s favorite memories of Knox College include Flunk Day and his last term of his senior year. He had already taken all the courses he needed for his major and was doing an independent study at the time.
“My roommateÐwho is still one of my best friends today, to this very dayÐwas already accepted to law school, and I was accepted to dental school,” Goril said. “So we set up our last trimester [so that] we were done with our classes by 10 a.m. and we went to the local municipal golf course in Galesburg and played golf Monday through Friday.”
Four years after graduating from Knox cum laude, Goril established his own business, James M. Goril D.D.S. Family Dental Care, in the city of Hegewisch, Ill. Throughout his career, he’s treated more than 20 families for four generations and over 100 families for three generations.
Reminiscent of his final term of school, Goril said his forthcoming retirement plans include spending more time with his wife, golf clubs and grandchildrenÐnot in that order. Even his grandchildren, in a small way, are a token of remembrance for Goril’s higher education.
“I have three grandchildren. My oldest grandchild, who’s 7, his middle name is Knox. My daughter gave that middle name to him in deference to me going to Knox College.”
Goril stated he has no regrets about the path he chose in life. He advises current Knox students to take a wide range of different courses and to follow a passion that makes every day exciting.