Passion. Empathy. Student-Centered.
If you were to scan a dictionary for the meaning of these three words, you would likely find a picture of Dr. James A. Knight next to them. Professor Emeritus of the Agricultural Education, Technology & Innovation Department at the University of Arizona, Dr. Knight left a legacy of extraordinary service to the students he taught, led, and mentored during his tenure. His ongoing legacy was celebrated on Friday, November 5th, 2021 with the dedication of the James A. Knight Student Engagement Center.
Room 217 in Saguaro Hall on the University of Arizona campus was never seen as a place for engaging students. AETI alumni are more familiar with it as a storage room for old desks, chairs, and books or as the “student workroom” of the department. Now, it shines brightly with UArizona-spirited decor along with a plaque honoring the man to whom it is dedicated.
During the ceremony, over 30 friends, former students, and mentees of Dr. Knight celebrated the man who made a difference in their lives. Quotes from these individuals flashed across the Center’s monitor while Drs. Matthew Mars and Robert Torres, AETI Associate Professor and AETI Department Head & Professor, respectively, recounted their own personal experience of Dr. Knight’s effect on their lives.
Dr. Mars shares that, “‘Dr. Knight taught me first and foremost the power of empathy and compassion in creating rich and meaningful connections with students.’” Dr. Mars beamed with pride and gratitude being able to honor an individual who influenced his teaching style. Dr. Torres remembers how, “Dr. Knight made it a point to know his students by name, even if there were 300 students enrolled in his course.” It is not difficult to see where one of the core values of AETI - being student-centered - came from.
Visiting the department where he touched the lives of thousands of youth and adults, Dr. Knight conveys his one mission in life. He states that everything he did within AETI was for students. He is grateful for the room being dedicated to him, but his gratitude is greater for what it represents - helping students.
Students in the AETI family, please know the ribbon cut at this dedication was for you and your success beyond the classroom. Please come visit the James A. Knight Student Engagement Center next time you are wandering the halls of Saguaro Hall. Come revel in the legacy of a man whose impact extends beyond the university walls.