2012 has been an exciting year for Knox -- a 175th anniversary celebration; a new president; new initiatives; new construction on Alumni Hall; and, most recently, a new chair of the Board of Trustees. Duke Petrovich '74, retired president of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and member of the Board of Trustees since 2004, stepped into his new role as chair of the Board on July 1. Petrovich has been a generous supporter of his alma mater -- "Knox was life-changing for me," he says -- contributing to the Knox Fund, athletics, and the renovation of Alumni Hall and sponsoring the Petrovich Challenge in 2008, which helped the College reach a record 36 percent alumni giving participation rate.
Like all colleges and universities, Knox faces numerous challenges due to the economy and current changes in federal and state support of higher education, and Petrovich is ready to face these challenges.
What do you look most forward to during your tenure as chair?
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as Board chair. This is an exciting time for Knox, and I look forward to working with President Amott and our talented group of trustees to advance Knox and its mission. Teresa brings a wealth of experience, a seemingly endless supply of energy, a real understanding of the things that make Knox distinctive, and a vision of what Knox can become. In addition, I look forward to more interaction with the dedicated faculty and staff and our exceptional students.
What's your ideal goal for Knox?
My vision is that Knox continues its legacy of academic excellence, while providing faculty and students with the programs, facilities, and resources needed to thrive. In the near term, we need to complete the renovation of Alumni Hall and address two other areas. The first is generating an endowment sufficient enough to reward faculty and staff for their commitment to Knox, as well as support those students who need financial assistance to attend college. The other area is to provide additional support and resources to improve the competitiveness of our athletic programs.
Where would you like to see Knox progress during your service?
Clearly, Knox has been built on a strong foundation of academic excellence. The major area that the Board, as well as all Knox alumni, must address now is growing our endowment. We've made substantial progress to date through the hard work of many; however, to achieve our future aspirations, we need to place additional focus and resources toward achieving significant progress in this area.
In her inaugural address, Teresa articulated some important objectives for the College over the next few years, including addressing learning needs in a digital world, building a more diverse and inclusive community, and creating a culture of sustainability. I am sure we can achieve these goals, but it all starts with ensuring that the College has the resources it needs.
What do you see as the essential elements that you bring to your Board leadership?
I bring my personal passion and a commitment to better position Knox for the next 175 years, and I hope an ability to empower the similar passions that exist in the hearts of most Knox alums. My business experience has taught me, though, that passion is not enough-careful planning with measurable objectives is critical to achieving goals. I look forward to putting my planning experience to work for Knox.
What's Knox's greatest challenge right now?
Our greatest challenge is to navigate these unprecedented economic times. We are well aware of the impact they are having on government programs, student loans, and personal finances. As we address short-term issues, we must not lose momentum toward our longer-term goals. We can maintain that momentum by clearly articulating the importance of institutions like Knox to the health of our nation. The College in a very real sense holds the key to the door of opportunity for future generations, and its services are needed more now than ever. Our biggest opportunity is to share the story of the Knox experience with a more aggressive and effective marketing strategy. We have a great story to tell, and it will help differentiate us from other colleges and universities.
How would you describe Knox in a single sentence?
Knox is "a safe haven for freedom of expression." addressing learning needs in a digital world, building a more diverse and inclusive community, and creating a culture of sustainability. I am sure we can achieve these goals, but it all starts with ensuring that the College has the resources it needs.