Knox College

Enjoy Knox Traditions

You are probably looking forward to -- or have recently participated in -- one of your school's annual traditions: the graduation ceremony. Every year, Knox also honors its graduates with a Commencement ceremony on the South Lawn of Old Main. Adding to the excitement of the ceremony have been notable speakers giving the Commencement address, including Senator (at the time) Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Comedian Stephen Colbert, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Ed Helms, best known for scene-stealing roles in The Office, The Hangover, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, is on tap to give this year's address. Learn more about Knox Commencement.

Commencement is just one of Knox's many traditions. When you arrive on campus, you will have the chance to meet everyone on campus at Pumphandle. Later in the year, there will be The Bronze Turkey Game, International Fair, the Prairie Burn, and Flunk Day, among others. These traditions may not mean much to you yet, but in the days ahead, you'll find yourself looking forward to them and you'll see how they unify Knox as a community. Over the next four years, they will become your traditions, too. Learn about a few of the unique traditions that make Knox College, well, Knox College.

Students greet each other at Flunk DayEvery year since 1885, new and returning students kick off the school year with a tradition that introduces new faces and reunites old friends. On the afternoon before the first day of classes, students, faculty, and staff -- some of them in wacky costumes -- gather on the South Lawn of Old Main. The president leads the welcoming line, shaking each person's hand in turn. Everyone shakes the hands of those who have gone before, and the line grows, snaking around the campus. Watch a video of Pumphandle in two minutes.

The Bronze Turkey trophyThe Bronze Turkey Game
A bronze turkey trophy is awarded to the winner of the annual Knox-Monmouth football game, one of the oldest rivalries in the country. First played in 1888, the rivalry has grown quite heated, and the Bronze Turkey has occasionally been "appropriated" by means other than winning the football game. As a result, each year's winner usually displays a replica of the Turkey and keeps the original in an undisclosed location.

Prairie Burns

A student helps out at the Prairie BurnPrairie Fire is not just the name for our athletic teams. It's also a yearly tradition at Knox. Each spring, members of the Knox community gather for the annual prairie burn at Green Oaks, the 700-acre (285 hectare) biological field station and the second oldest tallgrass prairie restoration site in the nation. Burning the prairie replicates nature's method of renewing growth and maintaining biodiversity in Illinois's classic prairie habitats. Learn more about the Prairie Burn.

International Fair

Parade of Flags and the Knox International FairFood, culture, and entertainment from around the world take center stage at Knox College's annual International Fair, a celebration of Knox's global community. The Fair is a chance for Knox students from nearly 50 countries to highlight their cultures with arts and crafts, live dance and musical performances, and unique cuisine. Watch a video about International Fair.

Students try the zip line during Flunk DayFlunk Day

A campus-wide surprise party marks the arrival of spring for Knox students. The party's date is kept secret until the early morning, when the entire campus is awakened by the shouts of students running through campus and the ringing of the Old Main bell. All classes are cancelled -- and exam dates and paper deadlines postponed -- for a day of music, games, food, and fun. See the action during Flunk Day 2013.

These are just a few of the many traditions celebrated at Knox. Others include the ringing of the Old Main bell, Honor Code, Knox songs, and Founders Day Birthday Cake. Read more about other Knox College traditions.

A student with his beanieLost Traditions

Pumphandle and Flunk Day aren’t the only traditions that have existed in Knox College's 176-year history. Others have come and gone throughout the years, fondly remembered by those who witnessed or participated in them. Class scraps. Dandelion Day. Regatta Day. Green Bows and Beanies. These are just a few of Knox's long-lost traditions worth remembering. Read more about some of Knox’s lost traditions.

Visit the 2017 Facebook Group

Facebook logoWhich tradition are you most excited to participate in? What tradition do you think your class should start at Knox? Share your thoughts in the Knox 2017 Facebook group.

Dates to Remember

August 19
Fall Athlete and Parent Orientation

September 5
International Student Orientation
Multicultural Student Orientation

September 6
Non-Traditional Student Orientation

September 7
Family and Friends Orientation

September 7-11
New Student Orientation

September 11
Pumphandle, Day of Service, and
All-Campus Picnic

September 12
Classes Begin

October 4-6
Family and Friends Weekend


May 6 -- Welcome to Knox!

May 13 -- Graduation Wish List

Knox Links

New Student Page

Orientation Schedule

Knox News

Knox on Facebook

Knox Calendar

Class of 2017 Facebook Page

Knox College Office of Student Development
2 East South Street
Galesburg, Illinois 61401-4999
309-341-7222 Phone
309-341-7077 Fax