A. A Short History of Knox College
In the 1830s, a colony from upstate New York led by Presbyterian minister George Washington Gale traveled to western Illinois to found an educational institution. Knox Manual Labor College was chartered by the Illinois Legislature (including Abraham Lincoln) on February 15, 1837. Nine men were awarded degrees at the first Commencement in 1846. In 1857 the name was shortened to Knox College. The College’s reputation grew rapidly, and many of its alumni attained prominence.
Knox was a pioneer in higher education for women. From its earliest days, both men and women were enrolled in the College’s preparatory academy. A separate Female Collegiate Department was opened in 1850, and, 20 years later women were admitted to the full College program. One female Knox graduate, journalist and philanthropist, Ellen Browning Scripps, Class of 1859, was among the most accomplished American women of the 19th century.
In the 1840s, Knox became known as a center of abolitionism. Fugitive slaves found refuge in Galesburg in route to Canada, some in the homes of Knox College faculty. At Knox's Old Main in 1858, Abraham Lincoln denounced the morality of Stephen A. Douglas's position on slavery during one of their famous debates. Two years later, Knox awarded Lincoln an honorary doctorate, its first and his first degree of any kind. Hiram Revels, who later became the first Black American elected to the United States Senate, studied at the Knox Academy in 1856. Knox awarded a degree in 1870 to one of the first Black college graduates in Illinois, Barnabas Root.
Today Knox remains true to its charter and its history by providing a world-class education to a great group of students, regardless of race, gender or financial means.
B. Knox College Statement of Mission
Knox College is a community of individuals from diverse backgrounds challenging each other to explore, understand and improve ourselves, our society and our world. The commitment to put learning to use to accomplish both personal and social goals dates back to the founding of the College in 1837. We take particular pride in the College's early commitment to increase access to all qualified students of varied backgrounds, races and conditions, regardless of financial means.
Today, we continue to expand both the historic mission and the tradition of active liberal arts learning. We provide an environment where students and faculty work closely together and where teaching is characterized by inviting and expecting students to pursue fundamental questions in order to reach their own reflective but independent judgments. The mission is carried out through:
Our curriculum: Combining inquiry in traditional as well as newer
disciplines with the integrative perspective of interdisciplinary work;
building from basic skills of writing, reading, calculating and critical
analysis to opportunities for sophisticated student research and
The character of our learning environment: encouraging the
critical exchange of ideas, challenging our students with high
expectations and persistent demands for rigorous thinking within a
supportive and egalitarian environment, characterized by the
informality and openness that mirrors our Midwestern surroundings.
Our residential campus: encouraging the personal, cultural and
intellectual growth of our students in a reflective, tolerant and
engaged campus community through supportive residential
opportunities, numerous student organizations, a wide array of
creative activities and cultural programming, and opportunities for
intercollegiate and recreational sports.
Our community: reaffirming and extending our ongoing
commitment to a diverse community of students, faculty and staff
with each new hiring and admission.
Our aims throughout are to foster a lifelong love of learning and a sense of
competence, confidence and proportion that will enable us to live with
purpose and to contribute to the well-being of others.
Adopted by the Knox College Board of Trustees and the Faculty
C. Administrative Organization of the College
Knox College is a nonprofit corporation chartered under the laws of the State of Illinois. The governing body of the College is the Board of Trustees. The chief executive officer is the president of the College, who is appointed by the Board of Trustees. There are five vice presidents: Vice President Academic Affairs, Vice President Advancement, Vice President Enrollment, Vice President Finance and Administration, Vice President Student Development.