Farewell to Professor Emeritus C. Gregory Knight

Monday, January 5, 2015 - 9:01am

Hello Geographers,
I have sad news for the Penn State geography community and friends--Professor Greg Knight died yesterday, January 1, 2015.
Marieta Staneva, our geography colleague and Greg's wife, has been a wonderful caregiver during his illness.

Cards and wishes may be sent to her at:

600 Glenn Rd, State College, PA 16803 
or by email to mps5@psu.edu

I'll have news on memorials and commemorations later. In the meantime, I've appended a review of Greg's achievements from his retirement celebration a few years ago (2011).

From 2011 retirement celebration:
C. Gregory Knight, a member of the Penn State faculty for 40 years, retired as an emeritus professor of geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences effective June 29.

He came to Penn State in 1971 as an assistant professor of geography, having received his graduate degrees in geography from the University of Minnesota (M.A. 1965, Ph.D. 1970) and a short appointment at the University of Kansas.

His research interests were in climate change, water resources, resource management, global environmental change, and sustainable development. He conducted field research extensively in Bulgaria and Africa.

He is best known for his research on the human use of the environment, including books on ecology and change in Tanzania, climate change in Bulgaria and methods for regional assessment of climate change impacts.

Knight was head of the geography department from 1982 to 1989.  During his service as department head, the GeoGraphics Laboratory was developed. Its successors, the GeoVISTA and Gould Centers, are among the leading GIS/cartography in the country. In addition, the graduate program had been ranked second nationally, moving to first shortly after he moved to Old Main. He also administered when three women were added to an all-male faculty, and served the University as chair of the University Faculty Senate.

One of the highlights of Knight’s 40-year academic career at Penn State was welcoming the first student who joined EMS as a first-year Geography major. He viewed his role as department head as a person helping to plant orchards that colleagues could tend to maturity. He carried this commitment to his editorship of the AAG Resource Publications in Geography, providing an opportunity for many scholars to add a book to their vitae.

From 1989 to 1993, Knight held a university-level administrator position as Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education, returning to EMS to become associate director of the Earth Systems Science Center and head of the Center for Integrated Regional Assessment, an NSF-sponsored center of excellence on climate change impacts.

As Knight reflects on his career at Penn State, he takes pride on the accomplishment of all the junior colleagues he brought to the Department. “No matter how sharp the knife, it cannot carve its own handle,” is one Knight’s favorite Yoruba (Nigeria) proverbs.