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  • 04.20.21

In Memoriam: Bill Knight

  • by eAIR
Bill Knight

The AIR community is mourning the loss of a friend, mentor, and scholar. Bill Knight passed away April 7, 2021.

Serving most recently as Assistant Provost for Institutional Research and Effectiveness at Miami University of Ohio, Bill previously worked in institutional research and effectiveness at Ball State University, Bowling Green State University, Georgia Southern University, and Kent State University. 

He authored Leadership & Management in Institutional Research in 2014 and edited The Primer for Institutional Research in 2003—two prominent guides that have shaped countless offices of institutional research across the country and beyond.

AIR members recently shared stories about the impact Bill had on their growth, both personally and professionally, through AIR's online community, AIR Hub.

“I remember reading his manuscript Leadership & Management in Institutional Research on my flight to the AIR Forum in 2014 and how this work has helped me formulate many perspectives on leadership in my roles,” said Eric Atchison, VP Strategic Research and Arkansas State University System.  

Assistant Provost, Institutional Effectiveness, at University of Dallas Vicky Morris-Dueer also recalled how Bill influenced her development as an IR professional. “I considered Bill to be a great role model of what I should strive to be,” she said. “The very first RMAIR conference I attended back in 2008, he was doing a panel presentation among other IR professionals. I remember being in awe as a newbie.”

Laura Fingerson, VP, Enterprise Analytics & Insights at Strategic Education, Inc., felt similarly. “I was a little in awe of him since I had recently read (and highlighted, underlined, made notes in) his book, Leadership & Management in Institutional Research,” she said. “I remember he complimented my hand-knit socks! At the time, I was newer to the field and I so appreciated that book and his keynote.”

“I learned so much about being a good institutional researcher from Bill's work,” said Tony Parandi, Director of Institutional Research at Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion. “I also got to know him on a personal level and appreciated his friendship. The field of IR has lost a legend and I will miss him greatly.”

An active leader in the field, Bill served as AIR president in 2008–2009 and also served as an at-large member of the AIR board of directors as well as chair of the Forum Committee. He presented at countless Forums, led various other AIR professional development courses, and contributed articles to eAIR. He was also an active supporter of various regional IR associations. In response to his myriad contributions, Bill was the 2013 recipient of the AIR Outstanding Service Award.

Even more than his long list of contributions to the field of IR, his colleagues are remembering him for his approachability and desire to share what he knew.

“He was incredibly smart and incredibly generous with his knowledge,” said Michelle Appel, Reporting/PRISM Lead at University of Maryland-College Park. “It is hard to imagine an AIR Forum without him presenting and without seeing his smiling face and his gentle presence.”

To Angel Horton, Student Communications and Data Analyst at Central Georgia Technical College, Bill was a mentor. “We met at the AIR conference in DC,” she sharead. “I was having trouble finding my 'voice' and place in Institutional Research. As I write this, I'm not sure why I confided in a complete stranger. Dr. William Knight, then of Ball State, offered to mentor me. He honored his word, embodying leadership for IR/E.”

Timothy Chow, Director of Institutional Research at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, shared, “I will remember Bill's kindness, his words of wisdom, and generosity, and he leaves some big shoes to fill.”

Vic Borden, professor at Indiana University-Bloomington, shared, “Bill was one of a kind, devoted to the profession of IR and the AIR community as his own family. After grieving, the best thing we can do to honor his work is to continue in his tradition, improving the craft for the betterment of higher education institutions in their efforts to educate and advance the lives of lifelong learners.”

Feel free to share a story or note on Bill's memoriam site.

Bill Knight Forum Panel Presentation Bill Knight at the AIR Forum with friends and colleagues Bill Knight at the AIR Forum with friends and colleagues
Bill Knight receives AIR Outstanding Service Award Bill Knight at the 2006 AIR Forum with friends and colleagues Bill Knight at the AIR Forum with friends and colleagues
Bill Knight and the AIR Board of Directors (2008) Bill Knight Book Signing at the AIR Forum Bill Knight at the AIR Forum with friends and colleagues

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