For Charles F. Knight, chief executive officer at Emerson for 27 years and now chairman emeritus, this is not the first time he has led the initiative to advance Olin Business School. In 1980, he chaired the Business School Task Force, and in 1995, he volunteered again to lead the school’s advisory group, Olin’s National Council.
Thanks to a combined gift from the Knights and Emerson, Olin realized one of its major objectives: to build a first-class, residential executive education center. The Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center was dedicated in 2001, and the Knights endowed a distinguished directorship in executive education to provide leadership for the center.
Knight also was a member of Washington University’s Board of Trustees from 1977 to 1990, a pivotal period of growth in its history.
Knight’s philanthropic involvement extends throughout St. Louis, and he is especially interested in organizations devoted to higher education, healthcare, and youth assistance. From 1991 to 1998, he served in a number of leadership capacities for Barnes Hospital, overseeing the creation of Barnes-Jewish Inc. and, later, the BJC Health System. He is emeritus chairman for life of Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Joanne Knight has been especially engaged in advancing the work of the Alzheimer’s Association of St. Louis, for which she has served in several volunteer and advisory positions, including a term as president. She also has helped lead the Central Institute for the Deaf for nearly 30 years as a member of its board of directors.
Her service to Washington University includes charter membership on the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center Community Advisory Board and serving as a member of the School of Art National Council.
Over the years, the Knights’ deep commitment to medical advancement has combined with their philanthropy on many occasions, including the establishment of the Joanne Knight Breast Health Center and Breast Cancer Program in the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, the Charles F. Knight Emergency & Trauma Center, and the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professorship in Orthopaedic Surgery.
In addition to receiving an honorary doctor of science degree in 1996 from Washington University, Charles Knight received the university’s Robert S. Brookings Award in 1999 and its Eliot Society Search Award in 2007. He received Olin Business School’s Dean’s Medal in 1993 and, in 2012, both Charles and Joanne Knight received that honor. In 2010, Joanne Knight received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from the university.
In late 2011, the Knights stepped forward with a transformative gift of $15 million to expand facilities with Knight Hall. Their visionary gift provides the foundation for Olin’s second century of top-ranked undergraduate and graduate business programs.