Higher Education, Human Resources, and Lakeshore

College president departing school

April 21, 2017
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John Knapp
John Knapp. Courtesy Hope College

A college president in the region has announced he will be moving on to a new school this summer.

Hope College President John Knapp will leave his position this summer to lead Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Washington & Jefferson College announced Knapp’s appointment today. He will begin the new role in August. His last day at Hope will be July 31.

Hope’s Board of Trustees will make decisions in the coming weeks regarding interim leadership and the timeframe for a national search for the college’s next president.

Knapp has served as Hope’s 12th president since July 1, 2013 and also holds appointments as a professor of religion and professor of management.

In a message to the campus community, Knapp noted, “This was not an easy decision, for Kelly and I cherish our relationships with each member of this very special community.

“Leading Hope College is a tremendous privilege, and I am deeply grateful for your support, dedication and collaborative spirit over these last four years. I look forward to leading the college in the months ahead, as we finish a successful 2016-17 academic year and prepare for Hope’s next chapter.”

Karl Droppers, chairperson of the Hope College Board of Trustees, praised Knapp’s impact and service across his four years helming the college.

“I am thankful for the four years of service John has dedicated to Hope College,” Droppers said. “As president, he has worked hard to implement many positive initiatives and programs, and Hope is a stronger and more successful college as a result.”

Knapp’s tenure

Since joining Hope, Knapp has led the development and implementation of Hope for the World: 2025, a 10-year strategic plan to enhance the college’s distinctiveness as a place of academic excellence, faith development, inclusiveness and global engagement.

The college is also completing the first comprehensive campus master plan in more than 30 years.

Milestones during the current school year have included creation of the Boerigter Institute, which is a cross-functional and integrated program designed to prepare students for career success and professional growth, and the Mellon Grand Challenges Initiative to develop linked courses and research opportunities exploring large-scale, relevant themes.

Knapp established the Presidential Colloquium lecture series in 2014 to bring noted speakers to campus to address issues of national and global significance, and the college joined the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan as an educational partner in 2016 to bring international experts to campus through the council’s Great Decisions Global Discussion Series.

Knapp’s background

Previously, Knapp served as the founding director of the Francis Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, serving concurrently as a university professor and Mann Family professor of ethics and leadership at Samford.

Before joining Samford, he was a professor and director of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at George State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business.

His scholarship includes multiple books and articles on leadership ethics, issues in higher education and the intersection of faith and work.


Founded in 1862, Hope College is a liberal arts school in downtown Holland with an enrollment of 3,300 students.

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