RUTH AUSTIN KNOX knows from experience the value of a woman's college education. She is a 1975 graduate of Wesleyan, magna cum laude, Phi Kappa Phi. From the beginning, her life has been closely tied to the College. The daughter of an alumna, Ruth Hall Knox, Class of 1940, and a trustee, Robert Edward Knox, she has been influenced deeply by aunts, her sister, teachers, and friends — Wesleyannes who served as examples to her of what a Wesleyan Woman can accomplish.
Upon the completion of her degree at Wesleyan with a major in English, she entered the University of Georgia School of Law. In 1978 she received the Juris Doctor Degree, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and Order of the Coif. Admitted to the State Bar of Georgia that same year, Ms. Knox joined a national law firm specializing in a wide range of complex commercial real estate and public finance transactions. Twelve years later, she opened her own practice, again specializing in real estate and estate planning. During her twenty-four years in Atlanta, she was active in a variety of civic and volunteer activities; including association with the Junior League, service on the board of directors of Jerusalem House and the Athens YWCO Camp for Girls, and service as a trustee of the Atlanta Preservation Center.
Only a few years after her graduation from Wesleyan in 1975, Ruth Knox began life-long service to her alma mater. She served nine years on the Board of Managers of the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association. From 1985 to 1988, she was president of the Association. From 1990 to 1993, she chaired the Alumnae Campaign to fund teaching chairs to advance the academic program of the College. She was named a member of the Board of Trustees in 1993 and became its Chairman in 1994, serving in that position until she was appointed acting president in 2002. In January 2003, Ruth Austin Knox became the 24th president of the College, the first alumna in the history of the College to hold the position.
Under Ruth's leadership, positive growth and dynamic initiatives have invigorated the Wesleyan campus. Her tenure as president has been characterized by the development of several new academic programs, including centers of excellence in the sciences, arts, education, and service learning. Her desire to strengthen the College's long-standing ties to The United Methodist Church resulted in new faith and service scholarship programs that complement the outstanding academic program. Today's Wesleyan women experience curriculum infused with a philosophy of servant leadership that is exciting, relevant, and purposeful. A new Pierce Chapel, the first for the current campus, is will be breaking ground soon.
Ruth's fiscal leadership is equally significant, including her efforts to raise funds for the College's endowment to support scholarships and for capital improvement projects needed to expand academic programs and prepare for future generations of students. In 2007, Wesleyan celebrated the opening of the state-of-the-art Munroe Science Center, the institution's first new academic building in more than forty years, which also is endowed for future maintenance. After the completion of Munroe, Ruth turned her attention to the needs of Taylor Hall, the College's former science facility. The historic building required extensive renovation, primarily to repurpose old science laboratories and classrooms into an expansive academic space for Wesleyan's growing business, education, and psychology programs.
In 2011, Wesleyan began its 175th Anniversary celebration with the re-opening of the newly renovated building. Taylor Hall now contains the best features of the building's original 1928 design paired with 21st century technology, mechanical systems, and furnishings. Wesleyan College received Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification for Taylor Hall, making it the first LEED-certified project in Macon, Georgia. Complementing campus-wide energy efficiency improvements and initiatives, the College also is redeveloping its 100-acre Arboretum into a thriving outdoor learning classroom.
In addition to her life-long involvement with Wesleyan and the education of women, Ruth has been and remains engaged in the advancement of a wide variety of civic and volunteer organizations. She currently serves in board-level capacities with several regional and state-wide organizations, including the Georgia Humanities Council, Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, Central Georgia Health System, Tubman African American Museum, Career Women's Network, Community Foundation of Central Georgia, and Georgia Women of Achievement. She also has served on the boards of Capital City Bank Group, Cherry Blossom Festival, United Way of Central Georgia, Macon Symphony Orchestra, and MidSummer Macon.
In addition, Ruth is deeply committed to several state and national leadership initiatives to advance higher education including board service with United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church, University Senate of the United Methodist Church, Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges, Public Leadership Education Network, and Education First.
Ruth Knox is a member of the Rotary Club of Macon and Mulberry Street United Methodist Church. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. Ulyanovsk State University in Ulanovsk, Russia, awarded her the Doctor of Laws in 2003. In 2005, she was recognized as a Woman of Achievement by Career Women's Network and also named to Georgia Trend's "100 Most Influential Georgians" list. In 2007, Knox received The University of Georgia School of Law alumni association's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Scroll Award. For 2008, Knox was again recognized by Georgia Trend and named a "Notable Georgian of the Year."