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Knapp, Conner Appointed to New Posts at W&L

Washington and Lee University has announced new appointments in the University administration.

  • Elizabeth Knapp, associate provost and associate professor of geology, will become senior assistant to the president and director of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity;
  • Marc Conner, the Jo M. and James M. Ballengee Professor of English, head of the English Department and director of Spring Term, will become associate provost.

Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio and Provost-Elect Daniel Wubah jointly announced the appointments, which are effective July 1.

A 1990 graduate of Washington and Lee, Knapp returned to her alma mater as assistant professor of geology in 1997 after receiving her Ph.D. in environmental science from the University of Virginia. She teaches courses in geochemistry, hydrology and biogeochemistry. She has also taught courses on the geology of Hawaii and the geology of the Pyrenees. Her research has focused on low-temperature aqueous geochemistry, geochemical evolution and paleoclimate, aquifer redox chemistry and iron geochemistry.

In addition to her teaching and research in the Geology Department, she served as associate dean of the College for four years. She joined the provost’s office in July 2011 and has worked with undergraduate academic advising, new faculty orientation, student research opportunities and teaching award nominations, among other assignments.

Knapp moves into a redefined position that was previously held by Valerie Cushman, who recently left the University. Among her broader will be work with the Johnson Scholars, the 160 or so students who have won the University’s major scholarship competition. She will administer the new Johnson endowment, which will help each Johnson Scholar conduct special summer projects and research. She also will assess the Johnson program. In addition, she will work on initiatives for the president’s office with alumni, faculty and staff.

Conner joined the W&L faculty in 1996. He received bachelor’s degrees in English and philosophy at the University of Washington and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in English literature at Princeton University.

His primary area of scholarship and teaching is literary modernism, both narrative and poetry, including Irish modernism, the modern American novel and African-American literature. He has written extensively about the work of Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Charles Johnson and James Joyce. He created the Spring Term program in Ireland and has accompanied W&L students to Ireland on six occasions to experience the literature and culture there.

In addition, he teaches Shakespeare, the Bible as literature, and related courses in literature and religion and literature and philosophy. He recently completed “How to Read and Understand Shakespeare,” a collection of 24 audio and video lectures, as part of The Great Courses series.

As director of Spring Term since 2010, he has been responsible for curriculum planning and assessment of the University’s innovative four-week term, which has resulted in the creation of almost 300 new courses. He will continue to direct Spring Term as associate provost and also will work with undergraduate academic advising, new faculty orientation, student research opportunities and teaching award nominations, among other assignments.