He’s Ready to Lead


On campus this past fall to talk to a group of students and staff about leadership and traits to build success, Donald Knauss defined “leadership.”

“It’s about rallying people to a better future,” he said. “There’s a vision in that; and, as a leader, it poses the question: ‘How are you going to create a better future?’”

A member of USD’s Board of Trustees since 2008, Knauss has been a successful leader at companies including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay and, most recently, the Clorox Company. On July 1, 2016, Knauss took another significant leadership step when he was appointed the new USD Board of Trustees chairman, replacing Chair Emeritus Ron Fowler.

In just the past year, the board has been building a vision for USD’s future. It approved the Envisioning 2024 strategic plan put forth by USD President James Harris, and led by Envisioning 2024 Steering Committee Co-Chairs Vice President and Provost Andrew Allen and Associate Provost for Inclusion and Diversity Esteban del Rio. A new undergraduate core curriculum begins Fall 2017. Both shape the university’s educational and  institutional vision. 

“I don’t think there’s a more exciting time to be at USD,” Knauss said. “I like the mission, philosophy and feel of the school. I like the quality of the university’s leadership, faculty and students as well as the vitality on campus with students coming to a forward-thinking institution to drive intellectual curiosity.”

Particularly key for Knauss is the university’s dedication to a holistic educational experience.

“Globalization is very important,” he said. “It’s a competitive world out there. So regardless of what you want to do with your life, it’s about how you are positioning yourself. I believe that students come out of USD with not only the academic credentials, but also in a position to be effective.”

Knauss is eager to bring what he’s learned to his new role. He’s ready to lead.

“Real leaders take the people and assets they are entrusted with and make them more productive and valuable,” he said. “Real leaders can truly inspire people and make a real difference.” — Ryan T. Blystone

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