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Knox College President Rolling Up Sleeves for Home Stretch

Rich Egger
Knox College President Teresa Amott in her office last fall.

Dr. Teresa Amott has enjoyed a lengthy run as president of Knox College. She came to Galesburg to lead the private liberal arts college in 2011. Amott has announced she will step down in June of next year, and said the lengthy retirement notice should prove beneficial in a couple ways.

“That means that the institution doesn’t have to have an interim president (while searching for a successor),” Amott said.

“And it means that the person in place can run pretty hard in that last year to accomplish -- under some time pressure -- some of the things that you’ve really wanted to work further on.”

Amott plans to focus on the following:

  • Fundraising for the continued renovation and modernization of the science facility. “We’ve made a really important first step with that new space in the center of the building. That is classroom space and learning spaces of a really technologically enhanced and contemporary form. But now we need to move out into the wings and work on the labs particularly.”
  • Fundraising for the Green Oaks biological field station in Victoria. “We have a facility there that needs some attention and some renovation and we think we can get the fundraising for that accomplished in 15 months.”
  • Further deepening Knox College’s partnerships with the city of Galesburg and the surrounding region. “One of the things I’m most proud of in my nine years is how many students we have engaged in internships or community service at a whole host of partner agencies or businesses or organizations.”

Amott is the 19th president in Knox’s history, which dates back to 1837. She is the first woman to lead the college.

“This has been a wonderful nine years here in the region,” Amott said. “But it is time to retire. In 2021 I’m going to be 70 and I would like to have some retirement time back east, which is where our family is.”

Amott believes Knox made progress in modernizing some of its historic buildings during her tenure.

She also feels student demographics have started changing in the past decade. She said Knox now has many first-generation college students and students from underrepresented groups. She said that, along with the number of international students (about 20% of the enrollment), creates opportunities for “an enormous amount of learning.”

Amott said the job of college president got neither easier nor more difficult over time. She said there are bound to be ups and downs during a decade at the helm - and sometimes things that happen outside the campus can impact the institution.

“We are not an island,” Amott said.

“The demographic shifts that have affected the number of college-bound students in Illinois, for example, those hit us two years ago just like they’ve hit Western, just like they’ve hit Sandburg, just like all the regional institutions have begun to experience.

“No matter what year you’re in, you’re going to have to respond to whatever is happening in the greater society.”

Amott said the community welcomed her with open arms when she arrived in town in 2011 and she’s confident whoever replaces her will receive an equally warm reception.

“I’m grateful that we’ve had this time together and I’m grateful that I have a year to do the best I can to prepare the way for that next person.”

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.