Two high-profile lawyers, both alumni, have been chosen to navigate the helm of Knox College while the search for a new President proceeds. Roger Taylor, retired from and of counsel to the mega-firm Kirkland & Ellis of Chicago and John Podesta, formerly Chief of Staff to President Clinton, will start officially September 1st to perform the duties formerly the responsibility of Richard Millman who resigned effective that date and will be on sabbatical.
Taylor, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the past two years, was named at the board's meeting in Chicago to be the Interim President. The 1963 graduate of Knox College with a major in English went on to law school at Northwestern University. He retired from Kirkland & Ellis in 1999 and lives near Ellisville, about 25 miles south of Galesburg. Expectations are that he will be on campus several days a week and will focus his attention on fundraising, specifically bringing the $125 million Knox Now! campaign to a successful June 2002 conclusion.
Podesta, also a member of the Board, is a visiting professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He graduated from Knox in 1971, majoring in psychology, and has been politically active his entire adult life. His period at Knox was no exception; Podesta was a student activist who once was part of a group occupying Old Main. Now, he's welcome into the administrative offices via the front door. His new title is 'Vice Chair of the board of Trustees and Counselor to the Interim President.' He will be expected to assist Taylor in public affairs, student recruitment and fundraising.
The Board of Trustees has formed a search committee to start the process of finding a new President but no deadline has been set. 'We anticipate the process will take several months, possibly a year,' says Karrie Heartlein, Director of Public Relations. 'As it progresses, it will involve the board, faculty, staff and students.'
Changes are in store for Knox College at levels beyond the top. Lawrence Breitborde, Dean of the College, describes this period as one of 'institutional transition.' Several committees have been charged with looking at the way the college performs its job and delivers its services. Academic as well as non-academic departments are being evaluated and reviewed in an attempt to lower costs and increase the attractiveness of the institution. There is some speculation that officials wanted these recommendations to be evaluated and implemented before a new permanent President was named.
Despite the likelihood that he will be presiding over significant changes, Taylor is upbeat and optimistic. 'I look forward to working with John Podesta to get the word out about what a terrific college Knox is. Knox College delivers an innovative, demanding, highly successful educational experience. I am proud to be able to assist my alma mater during this pivotal time in its history.'
Reprinted with permission from The Zephyr, July 12, 2001.