President, Kleine Equipment
Knox College Trustee
Knox College and Galesburg have many ties that bind, including their joint
founding in 1837; however, those ties aren't always visible to the Galesburg
community. Unless they are directly connected to Knox, most people in
Galesburg may not always understand the mission and value of its hometown premier liberal arts institution. Trustee Mark Kleine wants to help change that fact.
"Joining the Board of Trustees gives me the opportunity as a community member to become more involved with Knox and the great things it does, especially for its students and the surrounding area," says Kleine.
President of Kleine Equipment, a John Deere farm equipment dealership with six locations in Western Illinois, Kleine first joined the Knox community five years ago, when he became a member of the College's Business Advisory Council (BAC). He joined the Board of Trustees last October.
Before he became strongly connected to Knox, Kleine knew that it was an academically strong school -- a belief that has only been strengthened since joining the Board -- and always hoped that the College and its people would become more involved within the Galesburg community. When Roger Taylor '63 became president of the College in 2002, Kleine saw immediate improvements in that area.
"As an outsider looking in, the most significant thing that I saw happen at Knox in the last 10 years is how Roger and Anne Taylor have brought the community and the College together," he says. "As a Board, we need to make sure our next president has the same passion towards Galesburg and Western Illinois."
Knox's mission to educate all students regardless of means was a fact that Kleine didn't realize until his service on the Board. "I was not aware that was such a strong part of Knox's mission, and I don't think there are a lot of people in our community that are aware of that as well," he says.
And this is exactly where Kleine can -- and wants -- to help the College.
"One way I hope to build Knox's influence in Western Illinois is to talk about its mission, the great things the College does, and the significant payroll it has in our region," he says.
President Taylor agrees. "Mark's service on the BAC gave him new insights about Knox, and he has come to appreciate Knox's importance to Galesburg, both as a national educational institution and as a stable economic anchor," he says. "As a trustee, Mark plans to share that message with others in Galesburg and the surrounding areas."
Kleine's many years leading a successful farm equipment dealership also provides him with a unique set of skills that he's putting to use as the chair of Knox's task force looking at facility issues and needs, including Alumni Hall. An early financial supporter of Alumni Hall, Kleine's familiarity with the project and the College's full list of needs has helped inform a change in direction for the task force.
"It's become more than the renovation of a single building, it's become a rejuvenation of the campus," he says. "We are now looking at this from the standpoint of what do we want Knox to look like in the year 2020 and beyond, and that's exciting."
Kleine knows how important Knox is to the community. "I'm not a Knox graduate, but I believe in the tremendous value there is in having Knox College in our area. That's the reason I want to give to Knox, both financially and with my time," adds Kleine.