Denison University has announced that retiring President Dale T. Knobel will serve as the keynote speaker at Denison's 172nd commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 12. During Knobel's 15-year tenure as president, Denison has reached and surpassed important milestones in enrollment and fundraising, and has expanded and modernized a number of key facilities. A leading national liberal arts college, Denison has seen an increase in the profile of both its students and faculty.
At the ceremony, Dr. Knobel's service to the college will be recognized with the conferring of an honorary degree, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
Knobel has served since 1998 as the 19th president of Denison University. Among his numerous honors and recognitions, he was recently awarded the 2012 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Chief Executive Leadership Award for its District V. The distinction was given in honor of Knobel's “outstanding leadership and service in support of education.”
In the nomination letter to the CASE selection committee, Denison Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Hoaglin, a member of the Denison class of 1971 and retired chief executive officer and director of Huntington Bancshares,noted that “Denison University and its stature have risen to new heights during the last 15 years of Dr. Knobel's presidency. Denison is recognized as having a robust and well-managed endowment with a large base of supporters, a rigorous course of study and an outstanding faculty, and is the first choice for many of the most motivated and talented students entering college.”
Under President Knobel's leadership, Denison completed an ambitious “Higher Ground” comprehensive campaign, which generated $178 million for student aid, endowed faculty positions, extensive new campus facilities, and both curricular and student life programming. The college's student/faculty ratio now stands at 10 to 1.
Knobel has been a champion of several causes both on and off campus. He is an ardent proponent of student and faculty diversity, sustainable operations, the advancement of women in higher education and promotion of the liberal arts, traveling as far as England and Saudi Arabia to discuss the benefits of such a model with educational leaders in Europe and the Middle East.
A scholar of United States history, Dr. Knobel is a widely-published expert on the subject of immigration, as well as ethnic and race relations in North America. He is the author or co-author of books dealing with ethnic stereotypes and anti-immigrant hostility.
Knobel came to Denison from Southwestern University in Texas, where he was provost and dean of the faculty. Previously, he had served at Texas A&M University as associate provost for undergraduate programs and as executive director of honors programs. He is the recipient of Texas A&M's Distinguished Achievement Award.
Knobel earned his bachelor of arts, cum laude and with honors, in history, from Yale University in 1971, and he holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University (1976). He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
President Knobel serves as chair of Ohio Campus Compact, the collegiate service-learning consortium; as past chair of the Great Lakes Colleges Association; as past president of the North Coast Athletic Conference; and as trustee of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio. Following a term on the NCAA Division III President's Council, Dr. Knobel joined the NCAA Division III Membership Committee. Knobel is currently in his second term of service on the American Council of Education's Commission on Women in Higher Education, and in 2010 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.