Whitlatch receives Caterpillar Faculty Achievement Award

Retiring theatre professor honored for teaching, creative work, institutional service

June 07, 2008

Presented at Knox College Commencement Exercises, June 7, 2008, by S.C. Banwart, Knox College Trustee and Vice President, Human Services Division, Caterpillar Inc

It is my distinct pleasure on behalf of the men and women of Caterpillar to announce this year?s winner of the Caterpillar faculty achievement award. The Caterpillar Faculty Achievement Award is given annually to a Knox College faculty member whose record of performance is outstanding. The winner of the prize is chosen by the personnel committee, an elected faculty body. The choice of the winner is made because of extraordinary accomplishment in teaching, research or creative activity, and service. In addition to receiving this special recognition from the Knox faculty, the winner also receives a cash stipend from the Caterpillar foundation.

This year's winner of the Caterpillar Faculty Achievement Award is Robert C. Whitlatch, the Robert M. and Katherine Seeley Distinguished Professor of Theatre.

Bob Whitlatch joined the Knox faculty in 1966 as assistant professor of theatre. Since then he has moved up through the ranks of the faculty by establishing a record of teaching, creative work and institutional service that is a model for the College. For his entire 42 years on the faculty, professor Whitlatch has maintained high standards of rigor, creativity and innovation as he taught, directed, and provided leadership for the program in theatre. He has directed over seventy mainstage productions and mentored hundreds of students ? from those embarking on their very first experiences on the stage to seniors whose talents he has helped nurture and develop. From the very beginner to the most advanced, he has, time and time again, drawn out the very best work from his students. And he has probably been able to inspire more student success with gentle prodding, humor, compassion, and a twinkle in his eye than anyone else in higher education today.

Outside his department, Professor Whitlatch was one of the pioneering faculty to introduce the First-year Preceptorial into the curriculum. In the decades since, he has remained a loyal participant in that program. Moreover, he has remained for 42 years one of the strongest voices on the faculty representing the value of liberal education and one of the most insistent voices regarding rigor and high expectations.

Knox College has benefited substantially from Bob Whitlatch's sustained excellence in the classroom and on the stage. The College is a better place because of him. I congratulate this year's Caterpillar Faculty Achievement Award winner, ?Doc Bob,? Robert C. Whitlatch.

Taylor, Whitlatch, Banwart
Professor Robert Whitlatch (center) is congratulated by President Roger Taylor and Trustee S.C. "Sid" Banwart at the presentation of the Caterpillar Faculty Achievement Award.