C. Gregory Knight

- 2015

Greg Knight, emeritus professor of geography at Penn State University, passed away on January 1, 2015, after a period of illness.

Knight received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College (1963) followed by a master’s (1965) and PhD (1970) in geography both from the University of Minnesota. After a short appointment at the University of Kansas, he moved to Penn State University in 1971 where he remained until retirement in 2011.

His interests lay in human-environment interactions, specifically climate change, water resources, resource management, global environmental change, and sustainable development. He conducted extensive field research Africa (especially Tanzania and Nigeria) and Southeastern Europe (especially Bulgaria).

Among his early publications were the monograph Ecology and change: rural modernization in an African community (1974) and the edited volume Contemporary Africa: Geography and Change (1976). More recently he was among the editors of Integrated Regional Assessment of Global Climate Change (2009) and Global Environmental Change: Challenges to Science and Society in Southeastern Europe (2010).

Knight served as head of the geography department from 1982 to 1989. It was during this time that the GeoGraphics Laboratory was developed and its successors – the GeoVISTA and Gould Centers – are among the leading GIS/cartography centers in the country. It was also during his time as head that the graduate program was ranked second nationally and that three women were added to an all-male faculty.

He viewed his role as department head as someone helping to plant orchards that other colleagues could tend to maturity. He took great pride in the accomplishments of all the junior colleagues he brought to the department. In the early 1980s Knight was also editor of the AAG Resource Publications in Geography, providing an opportunity for many scholars to add a book to their vitae.

From 1989 to 1993, Knight held a university-level administrator position as Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education before returning to the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences to become associate director of the Earth Systems Science Center and founding director of the Center for Integrated Regional Assessment, an NSF-sponsored center of excellence on climate change impacts.

Greg leaves behind his wife, Marieta Staneva, also in the geography department at Penn State.