In September, Bob Knight, associate dean for finance and administration, received the Marjorie S. Feldman Lifetime Service Award for his commitment to Weatherhead and professional excellence. One nominator wrote: "I think Bob is close to being the savior of the School with his incredible work ethic and dedication to our solvency and good management. He has single-handedly turned around our financial information and planning and worked with staff and faculty in a humane and caring way in a time of great stress."
Weatherheadlines staff writer Kim Palmer interviewed Bob Knight, Associate Dean for Finance and Administration, and he told us that he doesn’t mind if you call him Bobby Knight, but only as an “ice breaker.”
Q: When I asked how long you’ve been at Weatherhead, you replied, “You mean for this most recent tour of duty?” Explain what you mean by that?
For this tour of duty, I have been here since August of 2004, so that is 16 months. But I worked at Weatherhead before.
I came here in 1983 as an MBA student and at the time I had no idea that I would end up with a career in higher education. Two years later I became the first full-time budget person for the school.
Q: What happened after that?
I stayed at Case until 1994 and then I followed my wife to Arizona where she attended ASU and I studied at Thunderbird (the management school). In 1995, I went to work at Oberlin College as the budget director there. In 1998, I came back to Case and worked in Adelbert in the University Budget Office. Then I went to NC – Chapel Hill but 3 years after that I saw a job open at Weatherhead, and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to come back.
To go back before Weatherhead...I worked in government for 8 years. I knew I wanted to go back to school and get a master’s, but didn’t know what I wanted to do. My B.A. was in the social sciences from 1973 for Ohio State University. I was a bit unusual -- I finished my undergraduate in 2 years.
Q: What about your life outside of the job? Were you born and raised in Cleveland?
Yes, born and raised here. I was born at University Hospital and went to grade school in Euclid (Thomas Jefferson school). I went to high school in the Akron area.
Now my wife and I are back in Little Italy. It was a neighborhood that we were always interested in living and we never did before. We just moved into a condo on Random Road. The place has a Case flavor to it. One of our neighbors is Lynn Singer, the deputy provost, and several others are Weatherhead graduates including the architect’s son.
My wife and I got married when we were 18-years-old, and just celebrated our 34th anniversary.
We have no pets, but we once had a dove. My wife worked in a tavern and there was a magician that came to entertain and he gave her one of the doves.
Q: What has been your best job or best work experience?
I’m sure you will be surprised when I say that my current job is the best I’ve ever had. There are a lot more challenges now because of what is going on in the world of management and Case. It is very different from when I started. The challenges are due to the national decline in enrollment in business schools. There is more competition internally and different kinds of providers.
Many of the people that are here were also here in the 80s, and it is like my second home. I’ve spent more time at Weatherhead than anywhere else.
Q: And what about your worst job experience?
Jobs that involve physical labor are not fun. I spent time working in a Burger King, very briefly, when I was at OSU.
One time I went to a temp agency – they sent me out for the day to a hospital that was getting ready for an inspection and we had to clean up some nasty stuff. That was a bad job. But, it gives you an appreciation for people who have to do manual labor and why they ought to earn a living wage doing that – it is hard work.
Q: Do you have a mentor or someone who inspired you?
I just automatically think about my father when anybody asks that sort of question. He always taught me to constantly improve myself. He came over on the boat from Latvia and he did a lot of hard work and had to look out for his mother and his brother.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
I have recently taken up doing those Suduko puzzles; they are like crosswords with numbers and they are great stress busters for me. It’s better than watching T.V.
I’m also trying to teach myself to play chess. I’m playing against the computer because I would probably get beaten by a 5th grader.
Q: What about dealing with stress?
I’m a big fan of urban walking. I walk to and from work almost every day. We’ve had that lifestyle for a while. This is the third job that I live close enough to walk. My wife and I have seldom had more than one car in 34 years of marriage.
Q: What was the last good book you read or are reading?
I’m recommending this book to people recently, Blackbird. It was written by my mother’s cousin’s youngest son (which makes him a second or third cousin). It takes place in Montreal and is based on a real life incident. It’s a black comedy and a wonderful book.
Q: Who would play you in the movie of your life?
I won’t make any claims to look like him but I would want Sylvester Stallone.
Q: With the Rocky accent or without?
Without, definitely without the Rocky accent.
Q: If you knew it would be your last meal, what would you want?
It would either be a big Porterhouse steak or fried chicken and beer.
Q: Indian’s players get to pick two songs that are played when they step up to bat at home games. What two songs would you pick as you walked up to bat?
Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf or Crossfire by Stevie Ray Vaughn -- which is really going to surprise people because all they ever hear me listening to at work is piano music or smooth jazz.
Q: And now seasonal questions:
• Real or artificial tree – This year with our new condo I think we are going more modern. I hated these when I was a kid those 50s aluminum trees but we have lots of chrome and it should fit in.
• Garland or Tinsel – Tinsel for this look
• White or colored lights – White lights this year
• And the big question: Star or Angel – Gold star