Wayne Knoll, long-serving professor of English, dies at the age of 80

826Dr. Wayne Knoll, an Assistant Professor of English and former Jesuit priest who taught at Georgetown for over 40 years, died of cancer at his Springfield home on Nov. 10. He was 80.

Knoll received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, and joined the Department of English in 1972. He dedicated himself to a life of teaching and research.

His interests included Modern American literature and poetry, and his most recent research projects include a manuscript that closely analyzes William Faulkner’s principal novels and short stories.

“Wayne was first and foremost a teacher, and he leaves behind scores of grateful students,” Provost Bob Groves wrote in a community-wide email obtained by Vox. “[He] taught some very popular classes, for example, undergraduates sought out his Faulkner course year after year.”

Students recognize Knoll as a professor wholeheartedly dedicated to all of his students. Georgetown’s graduating class of 2006 awarded Knoll the Father Bunn Award as the Distinguished Teacher of the Year.

“He was more concerned about his students and wanted to get to know them rather than their grades,” said Tyler Adams (COL ’15), a student who previously took Knoll’s Southern Literature class.

Knoll was also a finalist for the Dorothy Brown Award as teacher of the year in 2006.

“Before we handed in our first paper, he required us to come to his office hours and talk to him about it,” Adams said. “I think we spent five [minutes] talking about the paper, [and] then he said, ‘I actually just wanted you to know where my office was in case you ever needed anything.’ We spent the next hour or so talking about Georgetown basketball.”

President John J. DeGioia appointed Knoll in 1983 to represent Georgetown as the Faculty Athletic Representative to the NCAA, a position he held until his passing. “I had the privilege of being taught by Wayne as a student and then later becoming a colleague and friend,” DeGioia said. “[Wayne’s] enthusiasm for his work was contagious. We were all made the better by it.”

The University is planning to hold a memorial service for Wayne’s former students. Details of the service are yet to be confirmed.

“He was awesome. I can’t believe he passed away,” Adams said. “I knew he was sick, but knowing him, I was sure he’d pull through and be back next year.”

Knoll is survived by his wife, the Rev. B. Anne Gehman.

Photo: Georgetown University

One Comment on “Wayne Knoll, long-serving professor of English, dies at the age of 80

  1. My future husband, D.J., and I met in Professor Knoll’s 1985 Short Story Novel class We both chose his class after friends strongly recommended him. He was energetic and loved the humanities, but specifically English as it drew them all together. A couple years later, after we had married and before kids, we bumped into him at the Kennedy Center. Before we knew it, Professor Knoll was treating us to a late night snack. What a treasured soul! We went on to have 7 children and that was the last time I remember visiting the Kennedy Center Roof Top Terrace post performance. I will read my first Faulkner book in his honor.

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