UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State alumnus Robert W. Knight III and his wife, Jacque, of Alpharetta, Georgia, have included a bequest in their future estate to support agricultural safety and health programs within the University's College of Agricultural Sciences.
The $500,000 gift will enhance the Nationwide Insurance Professorship, the first endowed professorship of its kind in the college. Funds from the endowment provide the professorship holder with resources to expand research, teaching or extension programs and best safety practices. Supported initiatives include the Farm/Agriculture/Rural Management — Hazard Analysis Tool, known as FARM-HAT, and the Safety in Agriculture for Youth, or SAY, program.
Dennis Murphy, Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, was named the first Nationwide Insurance Professor of Agricultural Safety and Health in 2014. Murphy's research specialties include tractor and machinery safety issues, youth safety, classification of agricultural deaths and injuries, methods of modifying farm worker safety behavior, agricultural safety and health management, and evaluating safety interventions.
"Devastating farm injury occurs regularly to all age and ethnic groups and to farmers at all experience levels," Murphy said. "Support like this is critical to maintaining and enhancing our efforts to help everyone on the farm avoid injury and illness from farm work hazards."
Bob Knight graduated from Penn State with a bachelor's degree in forest science in 1975. After reviewing career opportunities, he transitioned to a career in business. Upon earning his MBA at Penn State in 1977, he accepted a job with Monsanto selling agricultural chemicals.
Two years later, Knight moved on to a sales position at audio electronics company Sparkomatic/Altec Lansing, where he worked for 10 years before going into business for himself in the automotive parts industry. Eventually, Knight merged his business with several others and is currently a partner in the firm of Powell, Scheibe, Knight, Brannon Inc.
Although Bob never became a forester, the Knights are still connected to the natural environment through their farmland in Iowa. A close friend of Dennis Murphy, Knight has been inspired by Murphy's work over the years and believes in the leadership of Penn State in the field of agricultural safety and health.
"The Knight family has been close to agriculture in Pennsylvania since the time my grandfather, Robert Knight Sr., bought a farm in Enders, where my father, Robert Knight Jr., still resides today," Bob Knight said. "The work of Penn State and Dr. Dennis Murphy helps to save lives and enable agricultural workers to exist in a safer environment. It is incredibly important, and we are proud to help."
Penn State's alumni and friends are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University's land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom; expand the research and teaching capacity of faculty; enhance the university's ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty; and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University's colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.