THE KNOX COMMUNITY

Twenty-five years and more ago, Knox faculty would speak of the "Knox family." An active Faculty Wives group sponsored a steady round of social gatherings over the course of the year, collected used baby clothes and furniture to pass on to families with new babies, brought meals to these families and to others under stress for reasons of illness or other emergencies. But by the 1980s, most of the wives were working, and more of the faculty were women, without wives. A sense of willingness to help each other is certainly still present, but is not always as well-organized.

Knox is a place where your department chair may help you unload the truck when you arrive (or find some spryer souls who can), where serious attempts will be made to accommodate individual circumstance (with the accompanying expectation that you in turn will keep community needs in mind), where people socialize with each other with relatively little regard (at least in comparison to many other institutions) to boundaries between departments, between untenured and tenured, between faculty and staff. People are hired with the presumption that if all goes as expected, each new tenure-track hire will eventually become tenured. The principle is to help new people succeed, not to weed out all but a select few.

We hope that the earlier sense of "family," centered on a largely white-male-married faculty, has now developed into a more diverse, even if more diffuse, community, where privacy is respected but help can be asked for and will be extended--not just in the professional sphere, but in the many facets of daily life in which connection to others beyond one's daily circle is needed.

One thing we continue to do is provide meals when a household can use a hand with cooking, with the most common circumstances being a serious illness or surgery, or the birth of a child. We try to keep an eye out for each other, and offer this when we see a need. But if no one has contacted you, don't hesitate to let a friend know of your circumstances. Then all it takes is a message by that person to the faculty/staff distribution list to ask for volunteers.

Another part of the meaning of community life at Knox has to do with the relations between faculty and staff (both salaried and hourly). Many of us who have worked in other institutions find it one of the special qualities of Knox that collegiality--a sense of working together towards a common mission and the friendly relations that come from such a joint purpose--extends widely among the people that work here. If you're more used to a culture that views a secretary, gardener, or custodian as a menial worker at your service, or a culture where deans and other administrative staff are viewed as a suspect group of power-hungry manipulators, well, we hope you'll enjoy the different institutional culture here. When we're at our best, we're all working together to advance the educational goals of the college and to make this a good place to have a job. O.K., so we're not always at our best, but this is what we aim for.