Haverford College Announces New Dean of the College
John F. McKnight, Jr., who has been the dean of institutional equity and inclusion at Connecticut College since 2016, will succeed Interim Dean of the College Joyce Bylander on July 1.
Following a nationwide search, John F. McKnight Jr. has been selected as the next dean of Haverford College. He will officially join the staff on July 1. McKnight is currently the dean of institutional equity and inclusion at Connecticut College, a position he has held since 2016. In that role he oversees the programs of the offices of equity and compliance, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, religious and spiritual life, student accessibility services, sexual violence prevention, and Title IX.
“We are so fortunate that John McKnight will join us at Haverford,” said Haverford President Wendy Raymond, who co-chaired the search committee. “John brings a love of students, intellectual curiosity, and a capacity to build equitable communities to all that he does. Throughout his outstanding record of leadership across three liberal arts institutions, John has inclusively supported colleagues and students in reaching his and their own high expectations. He believes in and models involving students in broad aspects of a college's work. He understands and celebrates the power of the liberal arts to transform students’ lives. And he does all this with a warm, thoughtful style that invites creativity and collaboration. The search committee and I are thrilled that John will join us in July.”
“Haverford College is known for having an ethos of both intellectual rigor and strong community values,” said McKnight. “This dual commitment very much aligns with my work in higher education to ensure that students are able to see every part of their college experience as contributing to their learning and personal development.”
McKnight earned an Ed.D. in administration and leadership studies from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in higher education administration from Indiana University, and a B.S. in advertising from the University of Florida. Prior to joining the staff of Connecticut College, he worked at Lafayette College as dean of intercultural development and served as director of multicultural affairs and a coordinator of residence life at Lehigh University.
In his current role, he is a member of the president’s cabinet and is the college’s senior diversity officer. He developed Connecticut College’s Diversity and Equity Plan, introduced its Agnes Gund ‘60 Dialogue Project, and designed and co-taught classes including “#BlackLivesMatter” and “Conversations on Race.” At the core of all his work is a focus on the student experience; he was also co-chair of Conn College’s working group on student experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I first realized that I was interested in a career in higher education administration when I was still an undergraduate student who was very involved as an orientation leader and a member of various cultural student organizations,” he said. “I took notice of the fact that there were all these wonderfully talented and smart professionals working together to shape my experience as a student and I thought following in their footsteps would give me the chance to have a direct impact in enriching the lives of young people. I have had a very rewarding career in higher education administration thus far and have been able to influence positive cultural change within the campuses I have served.”
As Haverford’s dean of the College, he will oversee all aspects of student life at Haverford, including academic advising, accessibility services, athletics, diversity, equity, and inclusion and Title IX services, new student programs, registrar functions, residential life, student counseling, student conduct, student engagement, student support and outreach, and student wellness.
“From the very beginning, the search committee felt deeply impressed by everything John brings to this role,” said Jess Lord, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, who also co-chaired the 12-member search committee that included five students. “It became immediately clear to us that John is the consummate educator, defined both by his profound commitment to and compassion for students and the deep scholarship that underpins his work. John has such an impressive record of transforming the communities he has been a part of—both in terms of his impact on individuals and the community at large. We anticipate John having an indelible impact on Haverford, particularly at this moment in our history, as he works to advance our vision and make lasting change in support of being a truly inclusive community centered on student success and thriving.”
McKnight succeeds Interim Dean of the College Joyce Bylander, who joined the community last summer following the departure of Dean Martha Denney after 11 years of service to Haverford.