Heather Knight to Helm Pacific Union College
First African-American Woman to lead an Adventist college in the U.S.


r. Heather J. Knight, a veteran educator, whose last three years have been spent in the number-two position at Andrews University, has been named president of church-owned Pacific Union College in Angwin, California. Knight is expected to begin her duties in September, PUC announced July 17. She will be the first female president at PUC, and the first African-American woman to lead an Adventist college in the U.S.

Knight replaces Dr. Richard Osborn, who became PUC president in 2001 and who resigned April 30. On July 1, Osborn became an associate director for the Senior College Commission of Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which oversees the accreditation of 161 four-year colleges and graduate universities in California, Hawaii, and the Pacific Basin.

Dr. Heather J. Knight
“Dr. Knight comes to Pacific Union College with over 20 years of experience in higher education and a deep respect from the higher education community. From her work at the University of the Pacific to Andrews University, Dr. Knight has a proven track record of leading institutions to success, and we are thrilled to have her at PUC,” said Dr. Ricardo Graham, PUC board chair and president of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which owns the school.

Knight graduated with a Ph.D. in English from Stanford University in 1991, specializing in African American Literature; a master’s in English from Loma Linda University in 1984; and a bachelors in English from Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) in 1982.

Since 2006, Knight has served as provost at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. During her three years at Andrews, Dr. Knight successfully developed and implemented a strategic plan, and brought financial stability to the institution.

Knight joined Andrews University with rich experience in teaching and administration at the University of the Pacific, where she had served since 1988, starting as a professor. She then served as an assistant provost, and became associate provost in 1997. One of Knight's major achievements at the University of the Pacific was leading a diversity program to increase minority representation in the school's faculty. The effort, begun in 1997, increased the number of minority faculty from 10 percent to 19 percent, well surpassing the United States' national average of 13 percent.

Knight, a native of Jamaica, was raised in the New York City borough of the Bronx, and attended the Grand Concourse Seventh-day Adventist Church. After two years of study at Howard University in Washington, D.C., she transferred to Oakwood, where, she told Adventist News Network in 2006, she received a "wonderful grounding in Adventist education and spirituality."

Her exposure to Adventist education continued at Loma Linda University, where, she said in that ANN interview, she became inspired to pursue an academic career. At Stanford, she found a role model in then-provost Dr. Condoleeza Rice, most recently the U.S. Secretary of State, who was the first female African-American provost at Stanford.

Knight is married to Dr. Norman Knight, senior pastor of the Berean South Bend and Dowagiac Faith Fellowship Adventist Churches. Norman is also an adjunct professor of homiletics at Andrews University. The Knights have eight children and a grandchild on the way.

Pacific Union College describes itself as “a fully accredited Christian liberal arts college, founded in 1882 and located in California's Napa Valley. As a Seventh-day Adventist learning community, PUC offers a Christ-centered undergraduate education that prepares its students for productive lives of useful human service and uncompromising personal integrity. The college's overall program offers a full lineup of bachelor's degrees as well as several associate degrees, master's degrees, and pre-professional and degree completion programs.”



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