Dr. John C. Knapp Named 13th President of Washington & Jefferson College

Created: April 21, 2017  |  Last Updated: February 6, 2020  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

Read the biography of John C. Knapp, Ph.D.

WASHINGTON, PA (April 21, 2017) – The Board of Trustees of Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) today announced the selection of John C. Knapp, Ph.D. as the institution’s thirteenth president. Dr. Knapp, currently President of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, will assume office on August 1, 2017, following the retirement of current W&J President Dr. Tori Haring-Smith.

“Through an extensive and inclusive search process, our Board of Trustees unanimously and enthusiastically selected Dr. John C. Knapp to lead Washington & Jefferson College into the future,” said Richard T. Clark (’68), chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees. “W&J has a long history of excellence in education witnessed by the success of our graduates, innovation in our programs and curriculum, and our community outreach initiatives. Dr. Knapp’s skill set – management experience in a variety of academic arenas, a strong record of partnering effectively with faculty, a deep commitment to strategic and ethical leadership, and deep commitment to the liberal arts – make him a superb fit for W&J and the larger Washington & Jefferson community.

Dr. Knapp’s 34-year career includes serving as president of Hope College since 2013. A renowned expert in ethics as well as a seasoned academic, administrator, professor, author, consultant and community leader, Dr. Knapp was founding director of the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He also established and directed the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.

Additionally, he founded and chaired the Atlanta Diversity Management Network, a project dedicated to sharing best practices among the region’s largest employers, including five universities. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Knapp was a successful entrepreneur, trusted advisor and president of a communications consulting firm in Atlanta.

Dr. Knapp earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in theology and religious studies at the University of Wales, United Kingdom, a Master of Arts degree in theological studies at Columbia Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Science degree in urban life with a concentration in communication at Georgia State University.

Commenting on his appointment, Dr. Knapp said, “I am deeply honored to be selected by Washington & Jefferson College’s Board of Trustees to lead one of America’s great liberal arts institutions. I’m excited for the opportunity to engage the entire W&J community in creating a future that will allow students to thrive as global citizens and lead with uncommon integrity in their professional and personal lives. I am eager to collaborate with faculty, staff, students and alumni  to continue the expansion of W&J’s influence, student performance and reputation beyond the region.  Along with my family,  I look forward to becoming part of the W&J community.”

While at Hope College, Dr. Knapp led the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan to strengthen academic programs, student development, global education, and campus diversity.  Under his leadership, Hope College also is in the process of completing its first campus master plan in more than 30 years.

With Dr. Knapp’s guidance, Hope College saw the successfully completed construction of several new facilities on its campus. These projects were made possible through a $203 million comprehensive campaign that exceeded its $175 million goal.  The campaign also funded numerous scholarships and professorships in support of students and faculty.

Commenting on W&J’s leadership appointment, Trustee Diana Reed, chair of the W&J Presidential Search Committee, said, “W&J is nationally recognized as a superb liberal arts college and is perfectly poised to write its next chapter under Dr. Knapp’s leadership. After an extensive national search, our Board of Trustees saw an ideal fit between his many talents and the College’s needs. His experience, vision and integrity will be instrumental in leading us into our next stage of growth.”


About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.