Professor of Biology & Associate Dean, University of Rhode Island
Knox College Trustee
From the Fall 2009 issue of Knox Magazine.
Few people mention Knox's location as one of its unique characteristics, but Harold Bibb '62 believes it's one of the school's most important features. "There's something about being present on the prairie that informs the view and the vision that Knox has," says Bibb. "I know you don't hear that from a lot of people, but I believe it's really important."
It's this ability to provide a fresh perspective that makes Bibb a respected member of Knox College's Board of Trustees. A trustee since 1994, Bibb's perspective is shaped by personal experience -- he graduated from Knox with a degree in biology in 1962, and has spent his entire working career in academia. Together, these attributes allow him to speak truthfully and insightfully about the benefits of a Knox education.
"Harold brings the passion for Knox of an alumnus. At the same time, he brings the perspective of years of experience as a leader in higher education at a state university," says former Knox President Roger Taylor '63. "Others listen closely when Harold speaks."
Bibb originally came to Knox from Southern Illinois, attended graduate school at the University of Iowa, and after two post-doctoral fellowships on opposite sides of the continent -- one at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, the other at Brown University in Rhode Island -- found a place at the University of Rhode Island teaching zoology. Today, he serves as both professor of biology and associate dean of Rhode Island's graduate school. He credits Knox as the reason he's found success in academia.
"Knox broadened my perspective completely, and it was at Knox that I decided on a profession in academics. As a result of that, I've spent my whole working life on university campuses," he says. "I've had an intensely satisfying and rewarding career, and it's been incredibly special that it all started at Knox."
Bibb's experience as a university administrator, particularly his experience as an associate dean, has solidified his belief that a liberal arts education is the best preparation for students entering graduate school. And, again, he offers a perspective one doesn't hear often when it comes to graduate school preparation-close student/faculty interactions.
"In a school like Knox, there are strong student-professor interactions, and these become critical in graduate school," he says. "The strengths of academic preparation and an early introduction to the interactive nature of academic culture-these make Knox students better prepared."
Bibb's fondest memories of Knox include the excitement of his first year on campus, singing with the Knox College Choir, pledging with the fraternity Alpha Delta Epsilon -- the first fraternity on campus to accept African American students -- and time in the classroom, library, and labs. "They all just roll themselves together into a ball of really great memories," he laughs.
A first-hand witness to Knox's history over the course of numerous presidents and economic ups and downs, Bibb believes Knox is stronger than it's ever been simply because it has remained true to the best of its traditions. "Knox is at its core a place of fundamental fairness and a place that facilitates access to an excellent undergraduate education for students who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including those who might not otherwise be able to pursue that kind of education," he says. "These traits contribute to the school that it has been and the school that it is now. My hope is that these traits continue to define Knox as it moves into the future."