Campus of W&J College

Washington & Jefferson College Board of Trustees Launches National Presidential Search Following President Knapp’s Announcement of Retirement Plans

Created: August 21, 2023  |  Last Updated: September 18, 2023  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

WASHINGTON, PA (August 21, 2023) – Washington & Jefferson College’s Board of Trustees has launched a national search for the College’s next president following President Dr. John C. Knapp’s announcement in May that he will retire when his contract ends June 30, 2024.

During his seven years of service to the College, Dr. Knapp has implemented new academic and cocurricular initiatives, simplified tuition pricing, launched a reinvigorated W&J brand, and successfully led the College through the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is a privilege to serve one of the nation’s oldest and most distinguished colleges at such a pivotal time in American higher education,” Knapp said. “Kelly and I have developed a deep affection for this campus community.”

Under his leadership, the College adopted a strategic plan establishing the Center for Ethical Leadership and the Center for Professional Pathways, which aim to enhance student support and preparation for a constantly changing world and major curricular innovations to ensure graduates’ professional readiness.

To support W&J’s mission of preparing students to be professionals and citizens known for “uncommon integrity,” Dr. Knapp initiated the annual W&J Symposium on Democracy in 2017, dedicated to exploring current issues and perspectives on the state of democracy worldwide.

Many campus facilities have been upgraded during President Knapp’s presidency, including the complete renovations of the Clark Family Library, the Salvitti Family Gymnasium, and the dedication of the Eaton Fitness Center and Jerry L. Morrow Alumni Suite. He also oversaw the opening of Ignite, the College’s small-business incubator established to spark economic development in Washington County and provide opportunities for students to gain experience in entrepreneurship.

“W&J is stronger and more competitive today because of strategic changes implemented by President Knapp. He is leaving the campus well-positioned for future success,” said Donna Grier, chair of the W&J Board of Trustees. “We are also grateful for his leadership and the wisdom he provides.”

To prepare for the next chapter following President Knapp’s retirement, the W&J Board of Trustees has appointed 14 members of the W&J community to assist in the search for the 14th President.

The committee will consist of the following individuals: Dr. Keith T. Ghezzi, M.D. ’77, Member, Board of Trustees, Chair of the Presidential Search Committee; Eva Chatterjee-Sutton, M.A., Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students; Richard T. Clark, B.A. ’68, Emeritus Member, Board of Trustees; Dr. Tiffani Gottschall, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics; Donna Haley Grier, M.B.A. ’80, Chair and Member, Board of Trustees; Clyde B. Jones III, B.A., Member, Board of Trustees; Dr. Jason Kilgore, Ph.D., Professor and Chair Department of Biology; Kerri A. Lacock, B.A. ’09, Associate Vice President, Alumni Engagement & Development Operations; Dr. Suet (Kam) Lam, M.D. ’07, Member, Board of Trustees; Scott D. McGuinness, B.A., Director of Athletics; Dr. Gregg Osborne, Ph.D. Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy; Nidhi Pulicherla, Junior Biochemistry Major; Diana L. Reed, Esq., Vice Chair and Member, Board of Trustees; and David A. Ross, M.C.P. ’78, Member, Board of Trustees.

Each member brings a diverse perspective and serves an important role in helping W&J select its next president.

After an extensive review of several national executive search firms, Isaacson, Miller (IM) has been selected to assist the committee and the Board of Trustees in managing the search process and actively recruiting a deep and diverse pool of candidates.

As the search process gets underway, the presidential search committee and the Isaacson, Miller team will consult widely with Washington & Jefferson faculty, students, staff, trustees, and other key stakeholders to learn your views about the future of the college and the type of leader that can best carry us forward, building on the impressive work of Dr. Knapp. This broad consultation process will begin with listening sessions soon.

About Isaacson, Miller

Isaacson, Miller is a mission-driven retained executive search firm. For over 40 years, they have partnered with clients to solve their most demanding leadership challenges and build diverse teams to shape the future of higher education.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pa., is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness, and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.