Three Knox Faculty Named to Endowed Professorships

November 19, 2013

endowed chairs headline

President Teresa Amott has appointed three Knox College faculty members -- Catherine Denial, Karen Kampwirth, and Rob Smith -- to endowed professorships in recognition of their distinguished teaching, scholarship, and service to the College.

Catherine Denial

Catherine Denial will hold the Burkhardt Distinguished Chair in History.

Before joining the Knox faculty in 2005, Denial earned her bachelor's degree with Honors in American StudiesCatherine Denial from the University of Nottingham, England, her master's degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and her Ph.D. in history from the University of Iowa.

She is author of the recently published Making Marriage: Husbands, Wives, and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country and has written numerous articles, reviews, and web publications on property and kinship in Dakota country and on history pedagogy and curriculum.

Denial also served as lead historian for the U.S. Department of Education program on "Bringing History Home and the Grant Wood History Institute."

Her teaching at Knox includes courses on the American West, Great American Debates, Feminist Methodologies, the Historian's Workshop, and Museums, Monuments and Memory.

"I love teaching -- it inspires and motivates me -- so I'd always wanted to work at a place where teaching was valued and supported, and where professors were allowed to be creative. Knox is that place," says Denial.

"Here, I get to be part of a community of learners that's always changing and growing, and that delights me. It also gives me enormous satisfaction to work at an institution founded by abolitionists, to know that social justice is at the very heart of what we do."

The Burkhardt Distinguished Chair in History was established in 2010 through the generosity of Dr. Richard W. Burkhardt '39 and Dorothy Johnson Burkhardt '39; it followed the 2009 Burkhardt Distinguished Chair in Modern Languages. Both Burkhardts had long and distinguished careers in the academy. Dr. Burkhardt was a member of the faculties of Syracuse and Ball State Universities; he served as vice president and dean of the faculty at Ball State and retired in 1985. Mrs. Burkhardt served as instructor of French, Spanish and Russian, also at Ball State, from 1958 to 1983, and was awarded the Palmes Academiques by the French government for her efforts to promote cross-cultural learning between France and the United States. She was a member of the Board of Trustees at Knox from 1976 to 1990, when she was elected a life trustee.

Karen KampwirthKaren Kampwirth '86

Karen Kampwirth ‘86 will hold the Robert W. Murphy Chair in Political Science.

Before joining the Knox faculty in 1995, Kampwirth earned her bachelor's degree in political science and Spanish from Knox, and her master's degree and Ph.D in political science from the University of California-Berkeley. She has lived and studied extensively throughout Central and South America.

Her scholarship includes numerous articles and book chapters, as well as several books, including Gender and Populism in Latin America, Women and Guerrilla Movements, Feminism and the Legacy of Revolution: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas, and an edited collection entitled Radical Women in Latin America: Left and Right.

Kampwirth has taught in Argentina as a Fulbright Scholar, received the Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research on Women and Politics from Iowa State University, and served as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California at San Diego. In addition to directing the Latin American Studies program at Knox, Kampwirth also has served as director of the Buenos Aires study abroad program in Argentina.

"As the College has always been very good about letting me develop courses that reflect my evolving interests (even when they are far from my original job description -- like courses on Al Qaeda and the Middle East)," explains Kampwirth, "I have the opportunity to work a lot of the stories from years of field research into my courses. And working with students makes me a better writer, I think, as my students are always one of my audiences whenever I write."

Robert W. Murphy was a 1931 graduate of Knox College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from Harvard University and earned an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. He served as executive vice president and chairman of the executive committee of the Borg-Warner Corporation and served as the firm's general counsel for more than 20 years. He also was a member of the Knox Board of Trustees for 22 years and served as its chair. The endowed chair was funded by the Borg-Warner Corporation in 1974 in his honor. His wife, Marion Murphy, remains active with the College, and his grandson, Tony Etz, is a 1983 Knox graduate.

Rob Smith

Rob Smith will be the first recipient of the John and Elaine Fellowes Distinguished Chair in English.

Before joining the Knox faculty in 1996, Smith earned his bachelor's degree inrob smith English Studies with Honors from University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom, and earned his master's degree and Ph.D in English and American Literature from University of Massachusetts.

His scholarship includes a monograph, The Seductions of Emily Dickinson, and a co-edited collection entitled American Culture: Canons and the Case of Elizabeth Stoddard. He also has published numerous articles on American poets, including Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins, and Dennis Johnson.

He also is an accomplished creative writer, publishing both fiction and non-fiction. He has received a Notable Mention in Best American Essays, a Special Mention as a Pushcart Prize Nominee, a Scotsman Short Story Award, and the Elizabeth Agee Prize from the University of Alabama Press for the best book published in American literature.

He teaches a wide variety of courses in American literature, including Romanticism, Realism and Naturalism, and Modern and Postmodern literature, as well as courses in film studies; he also has served as chair.

John E. Fellowes graduated from Knox College in 1937 with a major in economics and attended the Northwestern Graduate School of Management. He joined his family's business in 1938, and after service in the U.S. Army during World War II, returned to Fellowes Inc., where he worked for 69 years. During his time there, the company expanded its focus from the Fellowes' "banker's box" to an extensive range of products for the office and home. He served as general trustee and life trustee of Knox for 27 years and as director of the Chicago Opera Theater. He was especially interested in working with young people in schools and church. He and his wife, Elaine, were married for 64 years, and had two sons, James and Peter, and a daughter, Mary.