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Knox College President Concludes 10 Years at the Helm

Rich Egger/file photo from October 2019
Dr. Teresa Amott in the Knox College president's office in Old Main.

Dr. Teresa Amott came to Knox College in 2011 as the first woman to lead the college, which was founded in 1837. She is leaving Knox after guiding the school through some interesting times, including the global pandemic of the past year.

“A lot of people seemed to think that I was going to have difficulty retiring, that I would miss the hustle and the bustle. But I’ll tell you, the last 15 months’ hustle and bustle has certainly made retirement seem even more attractive to this 70-year old,” Amott said during an interview with Tri States Public Radio.

She called the pandemic “a complicated time” that forced Knox to reinvent almost everything it did – and to make those changes quickly. “It was a heavy lift at every college and university that primarily does in-person instruction.”

But Amott said that over time Knox, adjusted and even discovered new opportunities. She said the college increased communication with its alumni, inviting them to participate in meetings, lectures, and performances via Zoom. She said that gave alumni a better understanding of what the college is doing for its students and what needs students face. In addition, she said alumni witnessed the creative ways in which faculty, staff, and students adapted in response to the pandemic.

She said all of that resulted in record donations to the college.

“Looking back on it, I feel like we really did achieve quite a bit,” she said.

Amott said her predecessor, Dr. Roger Taylor, did “an astonishing” amount of work to stabilize the college’s finances, enhance its academic program, and increase pride among alumni.

“When I came in it was a matter of building upon that,” Amott said, citing the following as examples of achievements during her presidency:

  • The endowment grew, helping stabilize Knox through the pandemic;
  • An increase in the number of first-generation college students, students of color, and international students;
  • Improvements to the physical plant “…to have 21 Century kinds of facilities.”

“I didn’t do anything alone. There’s nothing that I did that wasn’t done by a pretty large number of people with me,” Amott said.
Amott has retired to Pennsylvania. She said she’s in the middle of a forest and anticipates volunteering with The Nature Conservancy to help preserve the region’s natural environment.

As we wrapped up our conversation, Amott said she wanted to add some thoughts about Galesburg.

“My husband Ray and I really loved Galesburg,” she said, citing its history, diversity of neighborhoods, array of retailers, dining scene, and more.

“To be so small and yet to have everything from a symphony, a theater company, Rootabaga jazz, a civic arts center downtown … we feel very fondly about Galesburg. If we didn’t have deep roots here in Pennsylvania and family and friends who honestly haven’t seen very much of us for ten years, we might have stayed in the area. It’s beautiful there.

“We’re grateful for the time that we spent there and we’re grateful for the welcome that people gave us when we came. We left a part of our hearts there.”

Knox’s new president is Dr. Andy McGadney. He is Knox’s 20th president and the first Black person to lead the college.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  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.