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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Knox Opens Another Academic Year

Members of senior staff, faculty, and the entire class of 2027 paraded down the center aisle between seats on the South Lawn as Knox College ushered in its 187th year during Opening Convocation on September 12, 2023. 

The annual event opened with a greeting from Nysa Phulwar ‘26. Phulwar reflected on her first year as a Knox student, sharing several key moments from her journey. She recalled the shocking change in climate in contrast to her home country of India, the experiences of joining many extracurricular clubs, and the freedom she felt to explore her own path at the College. She urged the students of the incoming class of 2027 to reach out and try new things while embracing the challenges ahead.

“Being here at Knox, if there is one thing that I have come to understand, it is that if you put your mind to something, anything, you can do it,” Phulwar said.

Provost and Dean of the College Michael Schenider took to the stage to introduce the newest members of the faculty and welcome them to the campus community. 

Knox College President C. Andrew McGadney followed with his Convocation address, praising the perfect weather and notes of Knox purple and gold mixed into the crowd’s apparel. He noted that he was excited to work together with the Knox community to make this the College’s best year yet. 

McGadney offered  a series of thoughts on how to build the best foundation for learning around campus. He centered his speech on three points he asked the crowd to consider as a responsible and supportive member of the community: 

  1. Don’t rush to judgment
  2. Support one another
  3. Take responsibility

He urged members of the community to seek the truth and engage in conversation with others. He also emphasized the importance of self-care and pointed to the many on-campus resources for mental and physical wellness. McGadney closed his remarks with a rallying call for community members .

“Let’s come together as a Knox and Galesburg community and model the behavior that we would like to see throughout society,” McGadney said. 

Dean Schneider then returned to the podium to announce the winners of a number of academic awards. The first award presented was the Philip Green Wright/Lombard College Prize. This is the highest honor conveyed by the Knox faculty to its members, with the sole criterion being distinguished teaching. This year’s recipient for tenured faculty was Associate Professor of Mathematics Mary Armon. This year’s recipients for non-tenured staff were Assistant Professor of English Roya Biggie and Assistant Professor of Political Science Thomas Bell.

Associate Dean of the College and Philip Sidney Post Professor of Chemistry Mary Crawford came forward next to welcome the new inductees to Phi Beta Kappa: Claire Dietz ’24, Marin Hart ’24, Sarah Hoffman-Weitsman ’24, Alexis Riggs ’24, Brandon Roberts ’24, and Sage Yoerger ’24.

Two additional scholastic awards were named during the ceremony. The Elbridge Pierce Prize for scholastic improvement is awarded each year to the senior with the greatest academic performance during their sophomore and junior years. John Peterson ’24 was named this year’s recipient. The Faculty Scholarship prize is awarded each fall to a senior who has exhibited exceptional academic ability while participating significantly in extracurricular activities. Sarah Hoffman-Weitsman ’24 was named this year’s recipient.

Finally, President McGadney returned to the stage to announce the recipients of the Janet C. Hunter prizes, which recognize outstanding accomplishments and service to the College by members of staff. This year’s recipients were Food Service Worker Karissa Soper and Manager of Campus Operations and Maintenance Pat Pendergast. 

Director of Spiritual Life Dan Marlin wrapped up the ceremony with an anecdote from his own life, sharing the story of his daughters’ difficulty finding their path through their early college years. He asked students to consider what they are truly passionate about and follow their own path forward. 

“You’re gonna have difficult days. You’re gonna have times when you wonder if it’s worth it. I want to encourage you that it’s 100% worth it,” Marlin said. 

Assistant Professor of Music Bram Wayman closed the ceremony by leading the Knox College Choir in a performance of the Knox Hymn while the crowd sang along, signifying the start of the 2023-24 academic year.

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Printed on Saturday, February 24, 2024