Skip to main content
Hero Image Loading


Office of Communications

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401



News Archive
Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Election 2008

Political figures visit Knox College

Bill Clinton in 2007The south porch of Knox's landmark Old Main has greeted a number of political figures who have visited and spoken at Knox over the years. These include U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2007, U.S. Senator Barack Obama in 2005, as well as "brief" candidate Stephen Colbert in 2006. Their commencement addresses are available on the Knox website:

Behind education and business, politics is the third-highest field represented by commencement speakers at Knox in the post World War II era.

Barack Obama, Roger Taylor in 2005The first political leader to receive an honorary degree from Knox was Abraham Lincoln in 1860, two years after he had engaged in one of the historic Lincoln-Douglas Debates at Knox. Clinton was awarded an honorary degree in 2007, after leaving office. Obama was awarded an honorary degree prior to announcing his run for the presidency. Colbert received his degree in 2006 (actually degrees; one on paper, one engraved on fireproof metal), prior to his tongue-in-cheek, two-week-long presidential bid in the fall of 2007.

Prominent political figures who have visited Knox to lecture or receive an honorary degree include:

  • U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley and Benjamin Harrison
  • U.S. Senators Barack Obama, Paul Simon, Paul Douglas, and Charles Percy of Illinois; William Benton of Connecticut; and John W. Bricker of Ohio
  • U.S. Representatives John Lewis of Georgia, Patricia Schroeder of Colorado
  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
  • Stephen Colbert in 2006U.S. Cabinet members Dean Acheson, Secretary of State; John Block, Secretary of Agriculture; Patricia Roberts Harris, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior; and Joseph J. Sisco and George W. Ball, both Undersecretaries of State
  • U.S. Solicitor General Ken Starr
  • U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft
  • Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
  • Federal judges Reuben Castillo, Joan Humphrey Lefkow, and Orie Leon Phillips
  • Stephen Colbert, candidate for President, Oct. 16 to Nov. 1, 2007

Share this story

Knox College

Printed on Sunday, June 16, 2024