Roger Taylor leads volleyball team in the Knox fight song

Knox College President Roger Taylor announces plan to retire

1963 Knox grad elected president of college in 2002

April 06, 2010

Roger TaylorRoger Taylor, President of Knox College, has announced his plan to retire by June 2011. This will be Taylor's second retirement. Before becoming Knox College's 18th president in 2002, Taylor had been a retired partner of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, where he remains Of Counsel.

Taylor was elected Knox's president in February 2002, after having served as interim president for six months. He was formally installed as President of the College on October 11, 2002.

"Roger Taylor will be sorely missed by all who love Knox, and especially by me," says Jan Koran, chair of the Knox College Board of Trustees. "His humor, insight and clearheaded leadership are an inspiration. He has been, and continues to be, a major reason why so many of us volunteer our time to work hard for Knox," Koran adds.

Photo top: Roger Taylor leads the volleyball team in the Knox Fight Song.

Before being asked to serve as interim president, Taylor had been Chair of the Knox College Board of Trustees.

At his installation, Taylor set three goals for his tenure as Knox's president: Nurturing Academic Excellence, Strengthening Institutional Self-Confidence, and Charting a Course Toward Financial Impregnability. Taylor took personally the challenge to help the college attract high achieving students, strengthen alumni relationships, and enhance the academic reputation of Knox among other national liberal arts colleges.

"It has been a privilege to serve my alma mater," Taylor says.

Taylor's vivacious personality and energetic style have helped Knox accomplish those goals. "The thing about Roger is that he has built a single Knox team out of diverse groups and has gotten them all marching in the same direction -- toward being proud of our College and, more importantly, telling people we were proud," Koran says. "The good news is that he and his wife Anne will continue to be a part of Knox in their current positions for another academic year. During that time, the board will work hard with Roger to make sure that Knox is on an even better footing for the 21st century in 2011 when he steps down than it is today."

Taylor has guided the college through the restructuring of Knox's educational program, the growth of student enrollment from nearly 1,000 to today's enrollment of 1,400, and the increase in alumni giving to the college from below 30% to 36% this fiscal year.

Also during his tenure as Knox's president, Taylor has overseen several capital improvements to Knox's campus. In 2006, Knox completed the first phase of a multi-year Fitness & Athletics Initiative to improve Knox's athletics facilities -- the E. & L. Andrew Fitness Center. Over the past four years, Knox has renovated nearly all the athletics facilities, including the most recent completion of the Knosher Bowl football complex and Memorial Gym, including the Tim Heimann Court basketball court.

Along with the Fitness & Athletics Initiatives, Taylor also has overseen the renovation of Hamblin Hall, a student residence; the purchase and renovation of Borzello Hall, an academic and administrative building; and the renovation of a variety of campus facilities to enhance sustainability.

Koran says, "His devotion to the College is infectious, and it is great to have a College President who not only does his day job very well, but can also sing the fight song better than anyone else!"

Roger L. Taylor '63
President of Knox College
Timeline

Roger L. Taylor was named President of Knox College in February 2002, following six months as Interim President.

Taylor was formally installed as President of the College on October 11, 2002. He previously served as Chair of the College's Board of Trustees.

A native of Fulton County, Illinois, Roger Taylor is a 1959 graduate of Cuba High School. He received his bachelor's degree in English from Knox College in 1963. He served in the United States Navy for three and one-half years, including a year in Vietnam, before entering law school in 1968. Taylor graduated with honors from Northwestern University School of Law in 1971 and served as an editor of the law review.

Taylor retired in 1999 from the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, where he practiced for 30 years and remains Of Counsel. He was a partner in the firm, which has over 1,200 attorneys in offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles and London.

Taylor joined the Knox Board of Trustees in 1988 and was Board Chair from 1999 to 2001.

Taylor is married to Anne Zweifel Taylor, a 1963 alumna and Knox College's Pro Bono Counsel.

Taylor at Knox College
Accessibility and enthusiasm have characterized Taylor's time at Knox. He moved his office from the corner of Old Main to a small hallway office. He and Anne -- also a Northwestern educated lawyer, who serves as volunteer Pro Bono Counsel for Knox -- regularly eat lunch with students in the cafeteria and make it a point to attend student performances and athletic events. Taylor stops prospective students visiting campus to introduce himself and extol the virtues of a Knox education.

Next to talking with students, Taylor says that his favorite activity is taking the current Knox story to other alumni. "I've lost track of how many alumni tell me that Knox changed their lives. There is an enormous reservoir of good will among our alumni. I want to tell my fellow alumni how Knox still changes lives."

Taylor has set three goals for his tenure as Knox's president: "Nurturing academic excellence -- Strengthening institutional self-confidence -- Charting a course toward financial impregnability." Taylor elaborates, "We need to build on our strong academic programs. We need to be less bashful in talking about Knox's excellent academic reputation and the accomplishments of Knox graduates. We need to persuade alumni of all ages that we -- the alumni -- have the responsibility to be good stewards so that Knox will continue to have the financial resources to flourish."

Roger Taylor's Higher Education Affiliations

  • Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges & Universities (FIICU), Board and Executive Committee
  • Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), Board of Directors
  • Galesburg Regional Economic Development Agency (GREDA), Executive Committee 
  • Lincoln Academy of Illinois, Academic Trustee 
  • Illinois Humanities Council, Board of Directors
  • Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission