In His Words: Dr. Robert Knott Speaks
march 20, 2002
Dr. Robert Knott, Catawba's President-Elect, spoke to many constituencies of the college as well as to members of the media following his unanimous election March 20 by the Catawba College Trustees. His words were so compelling, his messages so reassuring and his vision of Catawba's future so clear that we thought that a compilation of many of the comments he made throughout the day would be well worth sharing.
On learning of his unanimous election by Catawba Trustees:
"Today has been a marvelously rewarding and uplifting day for Brenda and myself. We have received a warm reception and we are very appreciative of the opportunity to come back."
On returning to Catawba College:
I always thought that Catawba had enormous potential as an academic institution. I was convinced of that the first time when I was here and I am even more convinced now."
On how Catawba has changed since the late 1980s:
"The biggest difference I see is the improvement in the physical facilities — the new Environmental Science Center is an enormous asset, the improvement of the athletic facilities, the new geo-thermal heating system and the dorm and building renovations.
My estimation it that 55 to 60 percent of the faces are new around campus and the opportunity to work with new folk, as well as with the people I worked with before, is exciting."
On his partnership with his wife Brenda, Catawba's new First Lady:
"We look at this as a joint enterprise. Both of us come to give you whatever we have to help build Catawba College."
On his three major goals for Catawba:
"We need to pursue academic excellence, live with a balanced budget and strengthen our sense of community."
On helping Catawba reach her next level:
"Our greatest challenge will be to raise the academic level of the institution while holding and growing our enrollment."
"We, as a college community, will engage in a process of identifying six to eight institutions which we think have reached a level to which we aspire. We would seek to emulate them while preserving, cherishing and honoring our past.
"We will increase the expectations of ourselves so that the accomplishments by which we and our students are measured continue to rise.
"Institutions which do not distinguish themselves academically in the state of North Carolina will have very difficult times in the near future."
On his leadership style:
"I would describe my leadership style as collaborative, emphasizing collegiality, shared governance and collective reasoning. It gives me great satisfaction to get everyone affected by decisions to the table to discuss issues.
My pledge to all of you is that I will do everything I can do to make sure each of you have a place at the table to help shape the future.
On his relationships with students:
"I got into education because of what some professors and coaches meant to me when I was a student. You might describe this as my payback, or payforward. I want to teach while I am here at Catawba – there is something intangible and irreplaceable which happens when faculty and students get together."
On the deaths of two Catawba students:
"It has been a difficult year for the college due to these tragic occurrences. The community has lost members of its family and like any family is struggling with the loss of those it loved.
"Events like these can, on the other side, have the very positive effect of refocusing attention on the things that matter most. We can either buckle under to the disturbing events or rally and come back with renewed strength and vision."
On the college/community relationship:
"A strong relationship with the community is critical to the college's well-being. I will continue to work at solidifying the strong relationships which President Corriher has established in the community."