When United States Senator Barack Obama addressed the 220 graduates of the Class of 2005 on June 4, he challenged them to ask themselves, “What will be my place in history?”
Recalling the original founders of our storied College -- missionaries and muckrakers who settled on the prairie and established both a college open to all individuals regardless of financial means and the main Underground Railroad depot in Illinois -- Senator Obama reminded the graduates that we can succeed as individuals and as a society only when we work together as a team. “Because individual salvation has always depended on collective salvation,” he said.
The founders of Knox College shared the Senator’s belief that we must all work together to improve ourselves and our society. The challenges we face today are far different than the challenges the country faced in 1837, but service to society is still promoted both inside and outside of the classroom at Knox College. On the following pages of Knox Magazine, you will meet current members of the Knox community who work, either on a volunteer or vocational basis, to better the world around them -- alumni such as Jack Larson ’44, who donates proceeds from musical performances to local junior high schools for the purchase of band instruments, or Merle Minks ’39, whose dedication to his church helped create a prestigious preparatory school; students such as senior Elisabeth Brewer, who created a literacy program for inmates at the Knox County Jail; and faculty such as Richard Stout, who works to reclaim local farmland from strip mining.
Senator Obama concluded his Knox address by stating that “through our collective labor … and our willingness to shoulder each other’s burdens, America will continue on its precious journey towards … a better day.” These words are reflected in Knox’s past and present, and, I hope, in this issue of Knox Magazine.
-- Roger L. Taylor ’63
From the Editor,
Almost immediately after the devastating tsunami struck Asia in December, international relief efforts were set in motion to help victims of the disaster. The Red Cross created a relief fund. Celebrities organized fund drives. But there were other relief efforts happening on a much smaller scale. A Knox alumna, who barely escaped the tsunami while visiting her homeland of Sri Lanka for the holidays, decided to stay at home and help in the recovery effort rather than return to the United States. A group of Post Hall suitemates organized a ribbon drive to raise money for victims of the natural disaster. A hygiene-product drive for tsunami victims was organized by the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
After hearing story after story about how Knox students were donating their time, energy and money to help tsunami relief efforts, I started thinking about community service at Knox. I soon realized that these individual stories of service are not unique to tsunami relief efforts. You read about them in the history of Knox College, and you hear them as you talk to people around campus -- stories of individuals working to better the world around them.
More and more students are performing volunteer work, and service-learning (learning that makes community service a formal part of the educational curriculum) is on the rise in schools across the country. In fact, recent studies report that two-thirds of all public schools now engage students in community work at all grade levels. Community service, civic engagement, service-learning, social responsibility -- I hear these words every day, but what do they mean in the real world? How do they apply to Knox College? What better way to explore these questions than by sharing in Knox Magazine the stories of individuals -- your friends and classmates -- who volunteer or perform community service on a regular basis.
Having chosen to focus on such stories, I sent a query to Knox faculty and staff asking for recommendations of people who would share their interesting stories. The response was tremendous. There are alumni working at arts organizations of all stripes, with HIV/AIDS victims and Habitat for Humanity; others are working in China as religious missionaries. More than 150 alumni have served in the Peace Corps. I learned that College faculty and staff volunteer for 92 different organizations within the local community. Some help organize the annual Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society, while others are active volunteers at local animal shelters.
The list goes on and on. How do we even begin choosing people to profile? After much consideration, we settled on eight individuals -- six alumni, one student and one faculty member -- who represent a diversity of interests, backgrounds and ages. There are undoubtedly other members of the Knox community who are worthy of coverage in this issue. The stories featured on the following pages are intended only as a representative sample of the many members of the Knox Community who have committed a significant part of their lives to service. We hope you enjoy reading them.
If you have your own service story to share or if you know of a classmate or friend whose dedication to service is noteworthy, please let me know. As I said in my last column, the more feedback I receive from you, the better I can do my job.
As always, enjoy,
Megan Scott ’96
Letters to the Editor
I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the new Knox Magazine. Beautiful color and layout! And, in addition to interesting Knox news, I enjoyed reading the articles on globalization and Maytag. We were recently visiting friends living in Texas near Reynosa, and we were well aware that all the new fancy houses in McAllen, Texas, were being made possible by jobs lost in Galesburg. The issue was a good balance of information--interesting, informative and with a local angle that interests alums. -- Pam Patton ’83
Congratulations. The Spring edition of Knox Magazine was the best ever!
I was particularly interested in the article on closure of the Maytag plant. When I graduated from Galesburg High in 1937, prior to entering Knox in the fall, I got a job at the Mid-West Stamping and Enameling Company. This was the original company that apparently changed hands many times and eventually became the Maytag plant. There were two 12-hour shifts per day, and I was on the 6:00 p.m.-8:00 a.m. shift, six days a week. The wage rate was 25¢ per hour, so at the end of six days, I was given my check of eighteen dollars.
Times have changed, but Knox will always be among the best. -- Dale Birdsall ’41
If Knox College likes to boast about how we stood strong with Mr. Lincoln against a hideous creation of human civilization, I would like to think that as the 21st century slinks into new territory, Knox College continues to stand strong in support of the difficult, yet tremendously exciting opportunities posed by civilization’s latest offering, globalization.
American capitalism, with related social and political forces, is a wonderful thing. You do not have to be born wealthy or a member of a certain social class in order to create or own your own wealth or shape your life’s story. The individual can make a real difference in the experiences they have in their lives. All that is needed is the willingness to try.
Outsourcing may appear to be all the rage in the mainstream press (New York Times et al) and on talk shows; this blissfully ignores the fact that America’s job creation-destruction-creation cycle has long been a fact of our social fabric. Try it out: The cotton gin. Railroads. ATMs. Automobiles. The telephone. Recorded music. Photography. Movies. Airplanes. Adverts. Cell phones. Cable. Satellite TV. Each one of those inventions caused pain of some sort to some section of the population. That’s life, no? Always winners and losers.
I tremble with fear thinking that someone associated with Knox could possibly endorse misguided protectionist, alleged “worker-friendly” policies, which are in fact based upon fear of known unknowns and those spectacular seductive unknown unknowns. Didn’t you pay attention in FP? -- Marc Safman ’94
Words of Encouragement
I just received the Spring 2005 issue of Knox Magazine, and it was outstanding in every respect.
The articles were informative and interesting. The photographs brought “life” to the magazine in many ways. Keep up the great work! -- W. Dudley McCarter ’72