Dr. John C. Knapp, who is the founding director of the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., has been named the next president of Hope College.
Knapp, whose leadership experience includes higher education and business, and whose scholarship includes multiple books and articles on leadership ethics, issues in higher education, and the intersection of faith and work, was unanimously elected the 12th president of Hope by the college’s Board of Trustees on Monday, March 25. He will assume office on Monday, July 1.
Mary Bauman, chairperson of the Board of Trustees, noted that Knapp is ideally qualified to build on the strengths already present at Hope, a heritage enhanced most recently under the leadership of President James Bultman, who will be retiring at the end of the school year after serving since 1999.
“We are thankful for the outstanding contributions of President Bultman and we believe that Dr. Knapp will build on that incredible legacy,” Bauman said. “Dr. Knapp is the right leader for Hope College at this time in her history. Never before has it been more important to equip our students for lives of leadership and service in a global society.”
“Dr. Knapp’s scholarship and experience in helping Christians understand how to bridge their faith to their work and daily lives is a critical element of successfully moving toward achievement of Hope’s mission,” she said. “Dr. Knapp is well known by, and has an excellent reputation with, leaders in Christian higher education across the globe and we are confident that will only enhance Hope’s efforts to become a destination institution for students and faculty who value an excellent academic program in the context of the historic Christian faith.”
Knapp’s enthusiasm for coming to Hope stems from his lifelong interest in integrating a Christian ethical perspective into the education of young people, a focus he’s pursued for the past two decades, most recently at Samford and previously at Georgia State University. He noted that he is excited to have the opportunity to serve as president at a college that he feels offers students the strongest combination of academic excellence and Christian character in the nation.
“In our complex global society where change seems to be the one constant, an educated person must know how to learn, think critically, take multiple perspectives and apply new knowledge,” he said. “A Christian liberal arts education adds substantial value by helping students grapple with the greatest questions facing them and their world.”
“Hope College is exceptional in melding the highest standards of academic rigor with a solid foundation in the Christian faith,” Knapp said. “By doing so in a uniquely inviting and ecumenical culture, Hope delivers an undergraduate experience that is second to none in Christian higher education.”
He said that he is particularly looking forward to working closely with the college’s faculty and staff and the extended Hope constituency to continue to create an even stronger Hope in the years ahead.
“Hope College is unusually well positioned to flourish in the next decade, and that is due to the outstanding work of Jim Bultman, the Board and the college faculty and staff,” Knapp said. “Under President Bultman’s leadership, Hope has developed across-the-board strength, from academic programs to first-rate facilities, financial stability, and enrollment success -- all at a time when many independent colleges are struggling.”
“We have the opportunity to leverage that strength to lift the college to new heights as we begin the next chapter,” he said. “We also have the potential to claim the even greater national reputation that the college has already earned.”
Knapp has directed Samford’s Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership since 2008, serving concurrently as the University Professor and Mann Family Professor of Ethics and Leadership. Located in the Office of the Provost, the university-wide center promotes student development through academic and co-curricular programming, and supports teaching and scholarship in the schools of the arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, law, nursing and pharmacy. It also serves as a valued resource to the professional community.
Samford University, like Hope, is a private, co-educational Christian institution. The university’s overall enrollment in the fall of 2012 was 4,758, including 2,965 undergraduates and 1,793 graduate students. Hope’s enrollment this year is 3,343 students.
Before joining Samford, Dr. Knapp was professor and director of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, which enrolls approximately 9,000 students. The center was established under his leadership in 1993 (as The Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics) and grew to become a leading educational resource for leaders seeking to strengthen ethics and integrity in organizations. The programs he led during this period were attended by more than 20,000 executives and managers from hundreds of corporations, governmental agencies, non-profits and professional firms.
Internationally known as a speaker and seminar leader for professional organizations, he contributes to public understanding of ethics through frequent interviews with such media as “The New York Times,” “BusinessWeek,” “Sports Illustrated,” “Entrepreneur,” National Public Radio, “Financial Week” and Bloomberg News Service. In 2003 he was appointed by the Governor of Georgia to develop principles of ethical governance and lead training sessions for gubernatorial appointees, including the boards and senior officers of more than 50 state agencies.
Knapp frequently speaks to public and university audiences about the moral purposes of higher education, and recently has been invited to speak in Egypt, England, Lebanon, North Korea, South Africa and Switzerland. He has directed several retreats for college and university presidents, including The Oxford Conclave, held regularly at England’s University of Oxford, and the Stellenbosch Seboka on Higher Education and Ethical Leadership, a gathering of university leaders from throughout Southern Africa.
His books include “For the Common Good: The Ethics of Leadership in the 21st Century” (Praeger, 2007); “Leaders on Ethics: Real-World Perspectives on Today’s Business Challenges” (Praeger, 2007); and “The Business of Higher Education” (ABC-CLIO, 2009), three volumes examining how universities cope with pressures to strengthen accountability and efficiency. His newest book is “How the Church Fails Businesspeople (and What Can Be Done about It)” (Eerdmans, 2011), a practical study of the relationship of faith and work. He is currently working on another book, “Ghostwriting and the Ethics of Authenticity,” which has been accepted for publication by Palgrave Macmillan.
Knapp’s scholarly work was recognized in 2009 when he was named a fellow of the Caux Round Table; in 2007 with his induction into the Martin Luther King Jr. International Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College; in 2001 with the Georgia Governor's Award in the Humanities; and in 1995 with Columbia Theological Seminary’s Florrie Wilkes Sanders Prize in Theology. He has been an adjunct Professor of Ethics at Columbia Theological Seminary, teaching courses in the doctoral program, and earlier was Senior Scholar and Professor of Ethical Leadership at Kennesaw State University.
He is a charter member of the board of Clemson University’s Robert J. Rutland Institute for Ethics, home of the International Center for Academic Integrity, and has served on the boards of Alabama Humanities Foundation; Georgia Humanities Council; Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges; Society for Human Resources Management, Atlanta; Public Relations Society of America, Georgia; Georgia State University Foundation; and Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, among other organizations.
Earlier, he had a successful career in business, gaining extensive management experience for more than a decade as president of a corporate communication firm. During this time, “Atlanta Business Chronicle” twice recognized him as the region's leading crisis management consultant; “Business Atlanta” (now “Georgia Trend”) selected him for its list of the “40 Under 40” most successful young executives; and Outstanding Atlanta Foundation named him one of the “Ten Outstanding Young People of Atlanta.” As a consultant he has helped leading corporations, professional firms, universities, governmental agencies and medical providers address a wide range of sensitive issues, including product safety, work-force reductions, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, overseas labor policies, environmental impact, worker safety, executive misconduct and workplace violence.
Knapp earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree, in theology and religious studies, in 1999 at the University of Wales, United Kingdom, where he was an Honorary Visiting Lecturer. He completed the Master of Arts, with distinction, in theological studies in 1995 at Columbia Theological Seminary. He completed the Bachelor of Science in urban life with a concentration in communication in 1981 at Georgia State University, where he was elected president of the student body.
He was raised in the Presbyterian tradition and is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He and his wife, Kelly, have five children: Amanda (24), Tracy (22), Charlie (20), Mary (17) and Ronnie (14).
Knapp was chosen through a nation-wide search process that began in the summer of 2011. The college was assisted in identifying and researching candidates by CarterBaldwin Executive Search, based in Atlanta, Ga.
Hope College is a four-year, co-educational, Christian liberal arts college affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, and has 3,343 students from 45 states and territories and 35 foreign countries. Founded in 1866, Hope offers courses in 91 majors leading to a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
Hope is a recognized leader in collaborative faculty/student research and creativity, and has one of the largest summer undergraduate research programs in the nation. Hope’s other academic distinctions range from national accreditation in all four of the arts, to consistently ranking as one of Michigan’s top teacher-education programs, to a 100-percent pass rate during the past two years by graduates taking the national nursing licensing exam. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” Hope has been named to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s “Community Engagement Classification.”