Wesleyan President Ruth Knox announces retirement


Ruth Knox will retire from Wesleyan College effective June 30, 2017, after a 15-year tenure as president.

Ruth Austin Knox announced Thursday, Aug. 11 that she will retire from Wesleyan College effective June 30, 2017, after a 15-year tenure as president.

“This is a natural time for fresh leadership,” said Knox, citing the completion of the College’s current strategic plan. “I have never felt more confident in our mission, in the quality of the Wesleyan Experience, and in the people who are dedicated to making that experience a superb one for our students.”  

Knox, a 1975 magna cum laude, Phi Kappa Phi graduate of Wesleyan, is the 24th president of the College and the first alumna in the history of the College to hold the position. She is the daughter of the late Ruth Hall Knox, Class of 1940, and the late Robert Edward Knox, a Trustee of Wesleyan.  

Upon the completion of her degree at Wesleyan with a major in English, Knox entered the University of Georgia School of Law. In 1978 she received the juris doctor degree, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and Order of the Coif. Admitted to the State Bar of Georgia that year, Knox joined a national law firm specializing in commercial real estate and public finance transactions and later opened her own practice, again specializing in real estate and estate planning. Before her appointment as president of Wesleyan College in 2002, Knox served as president of the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association and chaired the Alumnae Campaign, which funded endowed teaching chairs. She was named a member of the Board of Trustees in 1993 and became its chair in 1994, serving in that position until she was appointed acting president of the College.

Under Knox’s leadership, the College has strengthened its long-standing ties to The United Methodist Church, including by endowing new faith and service scholarships, creating the Wesleyan Disciples, and constructing Pierce Chapel. She also has led the effort to develop The Lane Center for Service and Leadership, resulting in a campus-wide culture of service and philanthropy. Through the Wesleyan Center for the Performing and Creative Arts, the College has continued its commitment to excellence in the arts and has preserved and shared its valuable collection of paintings and other works.

Knox’s fiscal leadership is equally significant, including her efforts to raise funds for the College’s endowment to support scholarships and for capital improvement projects needed to expand academic programs and prepare for future generations of students. In 2007, Wesleyan celebrated the opening of the Munroe Science Center, the institution’s first new academic building in more than forty years. The addition of the Munroe Science Center enabled the College to begin the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 2013. In 2011, Wesleyan celebrated its 175th anniversary with the opening of the renovated Taylor Hall, one of the original buildings of the 1928 campus. Wesleyan College received Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification for Taylor Hall, making it the first LEED-certified project in Macon, Georgia. Pierce Chapel also earned LEED certification at the Silver level.

Complementing campus-wide sustainability efforts, the College has developed its 100-acre arboretum into a thriving outdoor learning classroom. In 2013, Wesleyan renewed her historic connection with China by opening the Wesleyan College Confucius Institute. In 2015, the College established a dual-degree program with Guangzhou University, which in just two years has brought almost 100 students to Central Georgia for four semesters of intensive study and cultural experiences.

In addition to her life-long involvement with Wesleyan and the education of women, Knox has been engaged in the advancement of a wide variety of business, civic, and volunteer organizations. She currently serves as president of the Rotary Club of Macon and is a board member of Georgia Women of Achievement, Georgia Humanities, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Georgia United Methodist Foundation, the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, and Central Georgia Rehabilitation Hospital, Navicent Health. Her past service includes the Board of Directors of Central Georgia Health System (now Navicent Health), Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia (where she was the founding president), and the Capital City Bank Group.

Knox is deeply committed to several state and national leadership initiatives to advance higher education, including board service with the University Senate of the United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, the National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church, the Georgia Independent College Association, and the Public Leadership Education Network. Knox is a member of Mulberry Street United Methodist Church.