Catawba College Trustees Elect New President
march 20, 2002
The Catawba College Board of Trustees has elected Dr. Robert E. Knott as the 20th President of Catawba College. That unanimous action came March 20th during a called meeting of the Trustees in the Hurley Room on campus. Trustee James G. Whitton, chair of the 16-member Presidential Search Committee, made the formal motion to elect Dr. Knott.
Dr. Knott was one of the two finalists for the Catawba College Presidency. He will succeed Catawba's 19th President J. Fred Corriher, Jr. who last September announced his intention to retire after 10 years in the post. He will take the helm from Corriher after a transition period. Catawba's President-Elect is now completing his faculty responsibilities for spring semester at Mars Hill College.
Since 1999, Dr. Knott has served as Chancellor of Mars Hill College where he has been the chief operating officer responsible for all programs and personnel of the College. During his term as Chancellor, he led the SACS reaccreditation process to successful reaffirmation; administered the implementation of a new three-school structure and recruited and appointed Deans; coordinated the process for strategic planning of facilities development and securing of $10 million bond to initiate renovation of facilities; and, coordinated planning and adoption of a new General Studies Curriculum, securing a $400,000 grant for its implementation.
Dr. Knott made the following statement after his election by the Catawba College Trustees:
"The opportunity to return to Catawba College and Salisbury comes to
Brenda and myself as an honor and a challenge. We are honored to be
asked to rejoin the many good people of the College and community –
people whom we have come to know, like and respect. The challenge is
to build on the good work done by Bonnie and Fred Corriher and carry
Catawba College to an ever strengthened level of academic distinction.
We are encouraged by the excitement and expectations for the future we
find among all constituencies of the college. We are deeply grateful to
the members of the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees for
choosing us to participate in the building of Catawba College's future."
Tom E. Smith, Chair of the Catawba College Board of Trustees, lauded the work of the search committee saying, "I would like to commend the members of the Presidential Search Committee on their dedication in performing a very thorough search. Throughout the process, they kept the needs of Catawba always in mind and were determined to find the best candidate to meet those needs. Their recommendation of Dr. Bob Knott was received very favorably by the Board of Trustees. His character, qualifications and credentials definitely fit Catawba's needs.
"The future looks bright for Catawba," Smith continued. "President Corriher has served Catawba well and has brought the school to a new level of excellence. I am sure with all constituencies working together, Dr. Knott can continue to build on this base and achieve even higher levels."
Whitton also had high praise for the work of the presidential search committee that he chaired. "I want to say how much I appreciate the dedication and diligence applied by the members of the Presidential Search Committee to their very important task. Their energies and insights enabled us to achieve a recommendation for the Board of Trustees that will provide inspired and experienced leadership for Catawba College. It was a pleasure to have served with them.
"The selection of Dr. Robert Knott to be Catawba's 20th president," Whitton said, "comes at a pivotal time in the school's history. It brings to the campus experience in higher education administration and a proven ability to lead which provides an environment for qualitative development. The College has enjoyed a decade of significant growth under President Fred Corriher and is now poised to receive further direction and renewed thrust from a new president. We are grateful to President Corriher for his leadership and look forward to the achievements of President Knott."
Corriher commended the trustees on Dr. Knott's election. "The selection of Dr. Robert Knott as the 20th President of Catawba College pleases me greatly," he said. "His strong personal qualities and intellectual abilities are just right for Catawba College at this point in her history. Bonnie and I have admired Bob and Brenda Knott for many years, and have followed their successes at Tusculum and Mars Hill with great interest and admiration.
"Bob and Brenda know that they have our complete support," Corriher explained, "and that Bonnie and I are ready to assist them during the transition period as well as in any capacity they might see fit in the years to come. This appointment opens up a bright new era for Catawba College. We are both delighted at this selection and look forward to watching Catawba continue to grow and prosper under Bob Knott's leadership."
Dr. Knott earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics/Education from Wake Forest University, a B.D. in Social Ethics from Southeastern Seminary, an M.A. in Religion and Philosophy from Wake Forest University, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy/Higher Education from SUNY/Buffalo. He has also completed additional Graduate Study in Mathematics and Physics at North Carolina State University and Mathematics at Wake Forest University.
Prior to his service at Mars Hill College, Dr. Knott served from 1989-1999 as President of Tusculum College. During his tenure as President he rebuilt the Board of Trustees with 36 new members (Trustee annual giving increased from $50,000 to $435,000), led the implementation of a distinctive curriculum with a distinctive academic calendar, and shared academic governance structure and led an increase in enrollment from 564 to 1,516 students while increasing average ACT scores by five points. All residence halls were renovated, a new all-purpose center was constructed, a new gymnasium was built, all classrooms were upgraded and library holdings were computerized. He also led a strategic planning process that resulted in a reformulated institutional mission/purpose statement.
Dr. Knott has held several other administrative positions, including Provost of Catawba College from 1982-1989, Dean of the College at Arkansas College, and Academic Vice President and Dean of the College at Gardner-Webb College. He has taught Philosophy at Catawba College, Tusculum College and Mars Hill College, and Mathematics at Wake Forest University.
Dr. Knott is professionally active and in recent years has led Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaccreditation team visits, has served on the Kettering Foundation panel of college presidents reviewing the state of higher education, and has served as a Board member for the Tennessee Foundation of Independent Colleges and for the Appalachian College Association. He serves on the Board of the Greene County Partnership for Business and Economic Development, has led the Greene County Leadership Development Committee, is a member of the Exchange Club of Greeneville, is a Board member of the Educational Partnership Program in Green County, was a member of the organizing committee to introduce character education to Greeneville City Schools, and has taught several enrichment programs for Greeneville area adults.
Dr. Knott is married to Brenda Sue Harris who is a librarian and archivist. She served as librarian in the Salisbury Schools and as archivist of Tusculum College. They have two children: Andrea Knott Brewer, a classicist and collectible bear artist, and Robert Knott, Jr., a student personnel officer with a graduate degree in Asian studies.
Founded in 1851 by the German Reformed Church, Catawba College is today affiliated with the United Church of Christ. It is an independent, liberal arts institution with an enrollment of 1450 men and women.