Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Dewey Knight Was Known for Putting Students First

Dewey Knight listens to speakers at his retirement reception. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The University of Mississippi family is mourning the loss of one of its own.

Retired associate director of the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience Dewey Knight died early Wednesday morning at home after an extended illness, according to Lafayette County Coroner Rocky Kennedy.

Knight, 72, retired from the University in December 2018. He began his professional career at Ole Miss in 1997 in the Financial Aid department before becoming a part of the Center of Student Success; however, his life at Ole Miss started in 1966 when he entered the university as a freshman. While at Ole Miss as a student, he was in the ATO fraternity.

In 2012, Knight was awarded the coveted Frist Student Service Award for his work with students.

It was certainly not the first award or acclamation earned by Knight.

In 2016, he was given the Bonita C. Jacobs Transfer Champion Rising Star Award, and in December 2018 he was named the Staff Council’s Staff Member of the Month.

Knight loved all things Ole Miss, and while he would say he was honored and humbled after winning an award, he also said that just being able to spend his days doing what he loved was what made him happy.

“He embodied the spirit of Ole Miss on a daily basis,” said Kyle Ellis, director of the Center for Student Success and FYE. “It was not uncommon to see Dewey cheering on the Ole Miss sports teams, giving campus historical tours, or mentoring new professionals at the university. From his time in the Office of Financial Aid, to his work in the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, Dewey always put students first and served as a strong advocate for their success. The University of Mississippi is a better place because of Dewey Knight.”

Whitman Smith, who retired in 2019 as the director of admissions, said he knew Knight for more than 27 years and if there was one thing he could say to describe his friend and colleague, it was that Knight always put students first.

“I’ve never seen anyone put forth as much effort to help the (student) body and the individual, whether he was working in financial aid or the Center for Student Success or whether he was at church or in the Oxford community,” Smith said Wednesday. “He understood what they wanted and what they needed, and he was a fierce advocate for students.”

Andy Mullins retired from Ole Miss as chief of staff to the chancellor in 2019 and was the co-founder of the Mississippi Teacher Corp program. He knew Knight for more than 25 years as a colleague but it was at St. Peter’s where his admiration for Knight as a Biblical scholar grew.

“He knew more about the Bible than folks who had gone to Seminary,” Mullins said of Knight. “He was a very compassionate man, always helping people. His ability to teach the Bible from all points of view was very much appreciated. He will be missed.”

Knight was a devoted member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church where he taught Sunday School and Bible classes for more than 20 years.