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Dr. Hank Knight Recognized as Distinguished Teacher of the Year

Dr. Hank Knight
Dr. Hank Knight

Keene State College announces that Dr. Hank Knight, director of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, is the honoree of Keene State College’s 2018 Distinguished Teacher Award, for his commitment to student success and teaching in the country’s only undergraduate Holocaust and Genocide Studies program. The award is presented annually by the Keene State College Alumni Association to recognize excellence in teaching, encouragement of independent thinking, rapport with students, and effective student advising. Dr. Knight is the 48th recipient of this distinctive honor.

Several alumni nominated Dr. Knight for this recognition. A 2014 graduate said, “While continuously challenging me to stretch my mind and question many of my foundational ideals in courses I took with him, he also took great care to remind students of their greatness.” This alumna also said, “He empowers students to take ownership of their thoughts, their dreams, and their passions. He not only makes the world around us feel less intimidating, but he continues to encourage us to make our place within it.” Another graduate from 2014 said this about Dr. Knight: “His dedication to teaching is interwoven in his lessons, resounded in his office when he extends help to struggling students, and evident in the respect he extends to the entire community in Keene, New Hampshire.”

Faculty and staff colleagues also nominated Dr. Knight. A staff member said, “Hank has provided leadership, inspiration and enthusiasm around the American Democracy Project, known as ADP. He has led numerous ADP initiatives, including a ‘teach in’ on the crisis in Syria, exploring the Israel/Palestine conflict and facilitating a series of Intergenerational Dinners, focused on bringing Keene State students and local civic leaders together for discussions on big questions, such as ‘what do we owe each other?’” A faculty member offered, “…he draws knowledge and insight out of his students by creating a calm, respectful classroom environment where students feel safe enough to push their intellectual boundaries, engage in difficult dialogue, and ask the hard questions.”

“Teaching is, itself, an honor. And to be recognized with a special award for doing something that feeds your soul feels unexpected,” observed Dr. Knight. “Still,” he added, “that recognition means the world, because it means that those with whom you share this enterprise of teaching and learning think that you’ve been a good partner on that journey with them. That is tough to beat!”

Dr. Knight joined the Keene State College in 2007. He is co-chair of the biennial Steven S. Weinstein Holocaust Symposium, which he co-founded in 1996 with Leonard Grob of Fairleigh Dickenson University. He serves on the Church Relations Committee of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and several other national and international advisory committees related to Holocaust studies. Dr. Knight earned his BA in English from the University of Alabama and his M.Div. and D.Min. degrees from Emory University where he concentrated in theology and pastoral hermeneutics. He has served two institutions as chaplain and as a member of their respective departments of religion: The University of Tulsa and Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.

Dr. Knight began teaching courses on the Holocaust over twenty-five years ago while at Baldwin-Wallace. At The University of Tulsa, he was honored by his peers for his work in the classroom, receiving both the Outstanding Teacher Award for the University and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. Active in national as well as local interfaith relations, Dr. Knight also served as director of the Council for Holocaust Education of Tulsa, Oklahoma – a partnership of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa and The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art.

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