THE m PILOT
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19,1977
BOILING SPRINGS, NORTH CAROLINA
Academic Affairs Dean
GWC Welcomes Dean Robert E. Knott
The new Dean of Academic Affairs at Gardner-Webb Col
lege, Dr. Robert E. Knott, from Winston-Salem, N.C. is
truly an impressive individual who apparently has the
broad scope and flexibility needed to fill his new capacity
as Dean to the maximum. Only 37 years old. Dr. Knott re
ceived his B.S. degree in Mathematics at the then Wake
Forest College in 1962. He then earned his B.D. degree in
Social Ethics at the Southeastern Baptist Theological
Seminary in 1965. After some graduate studies in Mathe
matics at N. C. State University, Dr. Knott received his
M.A. degree in Philosophy-Religion at Wake Forest Uni
versity in 1969. In 1975, he received his Ph.D in Higher
Education-Philosophy at the State University of New York
at Buffalo. While completing these studies. Dr. Knott serv
ed as minister at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Winston-
Salem, N.C., as assistant chaplin at Wake Forest Univer
sity, as director of the North Carolina Governor’s School,
as an instructor in advanced placement mathematics at R.
J. Reynolds High School, also in Winston-Salem, as assis
tant chaplin at Wake Forest University, as an instructor in
philosophy and director of institutional research at Mars
Hill College, as educational development officer and assis
tant professor of philosophy at Mars Hill College, as assoc
iate dean for general studies also at Mars Hill College and
as Dean of the College at Arkansas College in Batesville,
Ark. Complimenting these credentials. Dean Knott has dis
played an avid, active interest in student needs that, ideal
ly, would provide for a more balanced educational process
at Gamder-Webb College.
Dean Knot married Brenda Sue Harris of Mooresville,
N. C. in 1962. They have two children, Andrea Leigh is
nine years old and Robert Eugene, Jr., six years old.
The following is an interview with Dean Knott conduct
ed by The Pilot on October 5, 1977.
PILOT: How do you view your role as Dean of Academic
Affairs at Gardner-Webb College?
KNOTT: I’ve had the opportunity to work and teach at
a number of different institutions all the way from the
large state universities to the small private liberal arts
colleges £md I’ve found that the large university teaching
experience was not what I thought to be condusive to a
good number of undergraduate students . . .
I firmly believe that education in its best sense is really
an interaction between student and professor . . . and I’ve
found that the environment which is mot condusive to
creating that kind of exchange is the small, and I think,
the private college. The public college tends to be highly
controlled by decisions of State Legislatures and by
decisions of the Board of Higher Education so that they’re
not free to move their curriculum, changing and designing
the learning experiences at the times may call for.
You find, for example, at public universities or under
graduate colleges that if you want to change the
curriculum, generally, you’ve go to go through four or five
major steps and it’s often finally controlled by the
graduate professors who have the most seniority and sit on
the policy committees. Very seldom do you get much that’s
exciting going on. But now, that’s not the case in these
kinds of institutions if you work hard to keep them alive,
to keep them fresh, to keep them moving.
PILOT: What do you view the student’s role as in deter
mining academic policy?
KNOTT: I see the student as, well, it depends on where
the student is in his own educational development. For
example, I think that the professor is here because, he’s
supposed to know or she’s supposed to know, something
about what you need to study ... on the other hand, you
may not have a particular program available to you, a set
of courses that meet your needs. You should have some op
portunity and options that create the kinds of programs
that would benefit you, that may be input in creating
course experiences, to be able to make a request that cer
tain things be put together for use of flexibility or it may
be requesting that certain courses come to be and topics
explored. The task, then, would be to convince some of your
professors to get involved in it...
The students can provide an input that I, as a professor
or a dean, cannot provide. I wouldn’t have the same per
spective on it. I have to continually be reminded of what
it’s like to sit on the other side because you often get a dis
tance there. And therefore students can provide and should
provide and should have vehicles for providing that per
spective in a curriculum. The student input is a significant
one, but I would have to be very open and fair in saying
that I don’t see it as a controlling one.
I think that the faculty, if we’re worth anything, should
know something about what’s needed for you in your
education. But we should also be placed in some circum
stances where we have to listen very carefully to you . . .
what I’m giving you is sort of a phUosophy of the college.
I’m very much a believer in shared goverance and by
goverance, I mean decision-making in an institution. I be
lieve that that should be shared by the faculty, administra
tion, and students, and by staff, by people who are not any
one of those first three. A person who works in an assistant
capacity also needs to contribute to the community. They
need to have a say-so, too.
I once found a gardner who was planning to be a profes
sor who spent more time standing at the corner talking to
students. So I just put him on the payroll as a counselor
and hired another gardner and let him stand out there with
his shears talking to students. But it was so meaningful to
them . . .
PILOT: What sort of hobbies do you enjoy?
KNOTT: Oh, I’ve started playing the piano. I’ve always
wanted to do that. . .
I like to read quite a bit and my reading is eclectic. I am
a generalist in the sense that I just like to keep up with a
lot of different things. My background, of course, is in phil
osophy which lends itself quite well to this approach.
Other hobbies I like ... I like to spend time on rivers
canoeing and kayaking. I jog, swim, go to plays ... I like
folk music . . . It’s the music of the people, so to speak . . .
Story-telling fascinates me. It can give you an awful lot
of insight into where people come from in the sense of what
their values £ire ... I got that interest in stories from read-
(Continued on Page 3)
Dr. Dan Proctor, Hebrew
and Greek instructor at
spent a unique five weeks
this summer. He attended
the Jewish Theological Sem
inary of America in New
York City, where he was one
of two Gentiles in his class
and the only Gentile in his
dormitory. He was there to
take two courses: one in
modern Hebrew and one in
the Jewish hturgy, a study
of the Jewish prayer book
(The Siddur), the guide to
the Jewish worship service.
How did a Christian react
to living in a Jewish atmos
phere? “It was interesting
to me, because I had a feel
ing of what it is like to be a
minority person, and aU the
insights you get,” comment
ed Dr. Proctor. “It was not
the attitude toward me that
made me a minority person,
but my realization that I
was different from them. Of
course, you’re immediately
recognizable as being differ
ent, because all the Jewish
men wear head coverings,
either hats or a skull cap.
“They were very open
with me. We tried to learn
from each other. I came out
with a great appreciation of
them,” he acknowledged. “I
learned that Judaism was
not a monolith and they
learned that Christianity is
not. They tend to speak of
the church in terms of the
Roman Catholic Church.
There are different factions
in Judaism, just as in Christ
ianity. The Jewish Theologi
cal Seminary is the head
quarters for conservative
Judaism is somewhat like
Southern Baptists. They
range from those who are
quite conservative to those
rather liberal. They take
Biblical scholarship like
do,” he noted.
Dr. Proctor’s instructor in
Modem Hebrew was a na
tive of Tel Aviv, Israel,
Edna Nachshon; his instruc
tor in Jewish liturgy was
Rabbi David Freedman.
“The liturgy is rigid,” he
discovered. “We surveyed
the services practiced in the
synagogue. We examined
the philosophy and theologi
cal ideas in the services. It
(Continued on page 3.)