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.

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 University from 2008-13. At Samford he promoted student development through academic and co-curricular programming, 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 educational resource for leaders seeking to strengthen ethics and integrity in organizations. The 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.

Dr. Knapp frequently speaks to public and university audiences about the moral purposes of higher education, and recently has been invited to speak in Egypt, England, Lebanon, North Korea, South Africa and Switzerland. He has directed several retreats for college and university presidents, including The Oxford Conclave, held regularly at England’s University of Oxford, and the Stellenbosch Seboka on Higher Education and Ethical Leadership, a gathering of university leaders from throughout Southern Africa. Internationally known as a speaker and seminar leader for professional organizations, he contributes to public understanding of ethics through frequent interviews with such media as The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Sports Illustrated, Entrepreneur, National Public Radio, Financial Week and Bloomberg News Service. In 2003 he was appointed by the Governor of Georgia to develop principles of ethical governance and lead training sessions for gubernatorial appointees, including the boards and senior officers of more than 50 state agencies.

His books include For the Common Good: The Ethics of Leadership in the 21st Century (Praeger, 2007); Leaders on Ethics: Real-World Perspectives on Today’s Business Challenges (Praeger, 2007); and The Business of Higher Education (ABC-CLIO, 2009), three volumes examining how universities cope with pressures to strengthen accountability and efficiency. His newest book is How the Church Fails Businesspeople (and What Can Be Done about It) (Eerdmans, 2011), a practical study of the relationship of faith and work.

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. He has been an adjunct Professor of Ethics at Columbia Theological Seminary, teaching courses in the doctoral program, and earlier was Senior Scholar and Professor of Ethical Leadership at Kennesaw State University.

He 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 has 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, among other organizations.

Earlier, he had a successful career in business, gaining extensive management experience for more than a decade as president of a 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” most successful young executives; and Outstanding Atlanta Foundation named him one of the “Ten Outstanding Young People of Atlanta.” As a consultant he has 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.

Dr. Knapp earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree, in theology and religious studies, in 1999 at the University of Wales, United Kingdom, where he was an Honorary Visiting Lecturer.  He completed the Master of Arts, with distinction, in theological studies in 1995 at Columbia Theological Seminary.  He completed the Bachelor of Science in urban life with a concentration in communication in 1981 at Georgia State University, where he was elected president of the student body.

He was raised in the Presbyterian tradition and is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).  He and his wife, Kelly, have five children:  Amanda (24), Tracy (22), Charlie (20), Mary (17) and Ronnie (14).

Learn more at hope.edu/president