Heather Knight will resign as president of Pacific Union College, effective January 8, 2017. Knight took over the helm of Pacific Union College in September, 2009. Typically, an outgoing president would announce his retirement or resignation a year or at least six months in advance to allow time to find and recruit a suitable replacement. There was no immediate information as to why Knight announced "the completion of her presidency" scarcely more than a month in advance of the effective date.
PUC's press release is as follows:
ANGWIN, Calif. — After seven and a half years serving as President of Pacific Union College, President Heather J. Knight, Ph.D., has shared her plans to complete her presidency at PUC effective January 8, 2017.
“It is always difficult to decide the right time to complete one’s presidency, but after considerable thought and prayer, I have notified PUC Board Chairperson Dr. Bradford Newton that I will complete my presidency within the next month in order to allow PUC adequate time to prepare for new presidential leadership for the next academic year. It has been a special privilege and pleasure to serve Pacific Union College, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked with PUC’s wonderful learning community of faculty, staff, and students and to positively impact this venerable institution over the past several years. My family and I wish PUC only the very best going forward.”
Knight became the College’s 21st president in September of 2009 when she was tasked with turning the institution around after several years of enrollment decreases and financial challenges. Under her leadership, Pacific Union College experienced significant growth and had its highest enrollment in 24 years of 1678 students in Fall 2013 and also its highest freshman-to-sophomore year retention rate of 85% in the same year. Knight was further known for her efforts to beautify and to renovate the campus, and several major campus renovation projects including the Dining Commons and Campus Center, the Nelson Memorial Library, the Enrollment Office, as well as the lobbies of Winning, Grainger, and Newton Halls were all completed under her tenure as president.
“President Knight led Pacific Union College enthusiastically and courageously during some challenging years, and PUC is stronger and better positioned for the future because of her leadership,” says PUC Board Chairperson Dr. Bradford Newton. “Among her many achievements, her work in strategic planning and implementation, along with her distinctive focus on the Adventist Advantage has proved to be a special blessing to the campus. Also, under her tenure, PUC received the single largest cash gift in its 134-year history in the amount of $2.6 million, which helped to significantly launch the current Heritage Campaign. Plans for preserving almost 900 acres of the College’s pristine forest lands through a Conservation Easement have also been developed during President Knight’s administration.”
Prior to her years of service at Pacific Union College, Knight served successfully for three years as provost at Andrews University, the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s flagship institution in Berrien Springs, Michigan where she was second officer of the University and managed its $75 million budget. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Knight served with distinction for eighteen years at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California where she served as Professor of English, Assistant Provost and Associate Provost. Knight earned her Ph.D. in English from Stanford University, her Master of Arts degree in English from Loma Linda University and her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in English from Oakwood University. She has also completed post-graduate studies in Management and Leadership in Education at Harvard University. A pioneer and a pacesetter, Knight made history as the first Black female to serve as the president of an Adventist college or university in North America.