Alumnus Fred Kniss Named New Provost

A 1979 honors graduate will return to EMU as the new provost.

New EMU provost Fred Kniss
New EMU provost Fred Kniss (Photo by Jim Bishop)

EMU President Loren Swartzendruber announced that Fred Kniss, currently of Chicago, Ill., will assume the second highest administrative post at the university on July 1, 2009.

Lee F. Snyder, president emeritus of Bluffton (Ohio) University, has served as interim provost for the 2008-09 academic year.

The provost gives overall guidance to the undergraduate and graduate academic programs of the university as well as Eastern Mennonite Seminary, various auxiliary programs and the Adult Degree Completion Program.

“We are pleased that a person of Dr. Kniss’ experience is prepared to join the team at EMU,” Dr. Swartzendruber said. “He has demonstrated a long commitment to Christian higher education and to scholarship in our kind of context.”

Kniss is chair of the department of sociology at Loyola University, Chicago, where he has been a faculty member since 1991. During his tenure he was interim dean of The Graduate School at Loyola, 2004-05, and graduate program director the sociology department, 2000-04.

“EMU is well-positioned to face the challenges and opportunities that confront higher education,” said Dr. Kniss. “We have a clear and attractive mission, with smart, innovative faculty and staff who are not afraid to try new ideas and programs. I look forward to working with faculty, staff and students to build a dynamic community of learning, rooted in Anabaptist values, training the next generation of global citizens to serve and lead,” he added.

Kniss was a double major in sociology and philosophy and religion at EMU. Following five years of service in Kenya, he went on to earn MA and PhD degrees in sociology from the University of Chicago.

His professional activities and associations include: chair-elect, American Sociological Association Section on Sociology of Religion; Association for the Sociology of Religion; and chair, publications committee, Association for the Sociology of Religion. He is a member of the editorial board of the “Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion” and has been associate book review editor and associate editor of the “American Journal of Sociology.”

Kniss is a member of the American Sociological Association, Midwest Sociology Society, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Religious Research Association.

He is married to Rosalyn Myers Kniss, associate administrator of clinical laboratories at the University of Chicago Medical Center and a member of the EMU class of 1977. They have two children – Michael, a 2006 EMU graduate, and Stephen, an EMU sophomore. They are members of Chicago Community Mennonite Church.