Biography of Dr. John C. Knapp

John C. Knapp, Ph.D., was named the 12th president of Hope College on March 25, 2013, and began his term on July 1, 2013. He also holds appointments as professor of religion and professor of management.

Professional Experience

Previously, Dr. Knapp was the founding director of Samford University's Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership. He served concurrently as University Professor and Mann Family professor of Ethics and Leadership at Samford from 2008–2013. In this role he directed academic and co-curricular programs and supported teaching and scholarship in the schools of the arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, law, nursing and pharmacy. He also served as a valued resource to the professional community.

Before joining Samford, Dr. Knapp was professor and director of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, which enrolls approximately 9,000 students. The center was established under his leadership in 1993 (as The Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics) and grew to become a leading provider of executive education for leaders seeking to strengthen ethics and integrity in organizations. Programs he led during this period were attended by more than 20,000 executives and managers from hundreds of corporations, governmental agencies, non-profits and professional firms.

Internationally known as speaker and facilitator, he has addressed academic and professional audiences in Egypt, England, Japan, Lebanon, North Korea, South Africa and Switzerland. He leads The Oxford Conclave on Global Higher Education, retreat for college and university presidents held annually at England’s University of Oxford, and he was the director the Stellenbosch Seboka on Higher Education and Ethical Leadership, a gathering of university leaders from throughout Southern Africa.

Dr. Knapp’s academic career has also included appointments as Senior Scholar and Professor of Ethical Leadership at Kennesaw State University and adjunct professor of ethics at Columbia Theological Seminary.  Earlier, he served for more than a decade as president of an Atlanta-based corporate communication firm. During this time, Atlanta Business Chronicle twice recognized him as the region's leading crisis management consultant; Business Atlanta (now Georgia Trend) selected him for its list of the “40 Under 40” successful young executives; and Outstanding Atlanta Foundation named him one of the “Ten Outstanding Young People of Atlanta.” As a consultant he helped leading corporations, professional firms, universities, governmental agencies and medical providers address a wide range of sensitive issues, including product safety, work-force reductions, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, overseas labor policies, environmental impact, worker safety, executive misconduct and workplace violence.


  • Ph.D., theology and religious studies, University of Wales, United Kingdom, 1999
  • M.A., theological studies, Columbia Theological Seminary, 1995
  • B.S., urban life with concentration in communication, Georgia State University, 1981

Major Publications

  • How the Church Fails Businesspeople and What Can Be Done about It, 2011
  • The Business of Higher Education, 2009
  • Leaders on Ethics: Real-World Perspectives on Today’s Business Challenges, 2007
  • For the Common Good: The Ethics of Leadership in the 21st Century, 2007

Honors and Recognition

Dr. Knapp’s scholarly work was recognized in 2009 when he was named a fellow of the Caux Round Table; in 2007 with his induction into the Martin Luther King Jr. International Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College; in 2001 with the Georgia Governor's Award in the Humanities; and in 1995 with Columbia Theological Seminary’s Florrie Wilkes Sanders Prize in Theology.  In 2013 Hope College awarded him the honorary degree Doctor of Letters.

Outside the College

Dr. Knapp is a charter member of the board of Clemson University’s Robert J. Rutland Institute for Ethics, home of the International Center for Academic Integrity, and serves on the boards of Great Lakes Colleges Association, Van Andel Institute, Michigan Intercollegiate Athletics Conference, and Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities.  He previously served on the boards of Alabama Humanities Foundation, Georgia Humanities Council; Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges; Society for Human Resources Management; Atlanta Public Relations Society of America, Georgia; Georgia State University Foundation; and Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

He was raised in the Presbyterian tradition. He and his wife, Kelly, have five children: Amanda, Tracy, Charlie, Mary and Ronnie, and one granddaughter.