Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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Bringing Back a Beloved Knox Tradition


185th Convocation, Pumphandle Returns to Campus

On Convocation morning, the air was brisk, leaves floated down around the stage, and Provost and Dean of the College, Mike Schneider, joked about blowing away in the steady wind. Monday Sept. 12 marked the College’s 185th Convocation ceremony, welcoming the class of 2026. The event was energetic, with live music performed by both The Cherry Street Combo and the Knox College Choir.

Convocation included many speakers, staff and students alike. Provost Schneider welcomed the new tenure track professors, new professors, and visiting staff members. 

Junior Abby King, Student Senate Health and Wellness Chair, challenged those in attendance to try something new this year.
Sophomore Karla Perez, Student Senate Outreach Chair, reminded students that Senate is there to support them, and urged them to get involved.

President Andrew McGadney announced several upcoming events – Constitution Day, a Senate voter registration drive, and a showing of On the Basis of Sex – to encourage community members to get involved civically this fall.

The Convocation Address was given by Associate Professor of Biology Nicholas Gidmark. According to Gidmark, everything is a library – a center of learning, and he urged students to take advantage. As well as, “in a world of too many pieces and not enough glue,” to find ways to help others every day.

The event ended with several Faculty, Student, and Staff prizes announced by Provost Schneider and Associate Dean of the College Mary Crawford. Then, a closing speech was given by Interim Director of Spiritual Life Daniel Marlin. 

View before Convocation. (Photo by Eleanor Lindenmayer)

That afternoon, Convocation was followed by Pumphandle, a long standing Knox tradition. The last full school Pumphandle was in the fall of 2019, so this was the first time that the Juniors, Sophomores, and First-Years were given the opportunity. 

“The celebratory event, including upbeat music, welcoming and encouraging speeches from students, staff and faculty and a lively Pumphandle and festive reception, all helped to kick-off our academic year in high fashion,” President McGadney said. 

The energy was high before the start of Pumphandle. Students buzzed around, putting on name tags and sanitizing their hands.

“I am so excited,” sophomore Ava Vacerella said. “I was so sad that we didn’t have this tradition last year and I’m excited to continue it again.”

Some students did have concerns about contracting COVID-19. Many wore masks, and some chose to wave or elbow bump instead of a handshake.

“I had COVID recently enough that I’m not worried about it, otherwise I would not be here,” sophomore Evelyn Dresner said.

While there was no count of how many students attended Pumphandle, it was certainly not the whole campus, indicating that everyone made their own choice about whether they felt comfortable with the event due to the pandemic.

“I don’t think I’m going to get COVID,” sophomore Devan Boone said. “I’m going to wash my hands as soon as I get home and not touch my face and then I won’t get COVID.”

There were many smiling faces, and exuberant hellos as everyone went down the line. Many shook hands, as is traditional, but others fist bumped, elbow bumped, or simply waved. 

“I’ll admit people’s faces started blurring together, but it was a beautiful, giddy blur,” junior Marin Hart said. “ It reminded me that people’s joy and friendliness is as contagious as their diseases.”

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