L. Lee Knefelkamp H’18, noted education scholar and dear friend of Wagner College, died Friday, Sept. 7.
Knefelkamp earned a B.A. in literature and humanities studies from Macalester College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Minnesota.
She served in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica from 1968 to 1970.
Early in her academic career, Lee Knefelkamp was a faculty member and program chair of counseling and student development at the University of Maryland. Later, she served as dean of the School of Education at American University in Washington, D.C., and as academic dean at Macalester College. She was professor emerita of psychology and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
For the past 20 years, Knefelkamp was a senior scholar with the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the nation's premier organization for the advancement of liberal education, consisting of over 1,400 member institutions. She was a pioneering scholar in the area of intellectual and ethical development. A major emphasis of her work was on making organizational and educational climates responsive to domestic and global aspects of personal and cultural diversity.
Wagner College honored Knefelkamp at this year’s commencement exercise with an award of a doctor of humane letters degree, honoris causa.
“Educators beyond number have had the opportunity of listening to Dr. Knefelkamp over the decades,” Wagner College religion professor Walter Kaelber said to introduce her at Commencement 2018, “and they have always been impressed — indeed, amazed — by her ability to take the most sophisticated pedagogical concepts and make them comprehensible and, more importantly, applicable to their daily teaching.
“Dr. Knefelkamp has the ability to always speak from the heart. … Beyond that, she has a wonderful, shall we say homespun sense of humor born of the American heartland, cultivated during her early years in Minnesota. It is that combination of intellect, understanding and humor that enables Dr. Knefelkamp to command the room, be it large or small.”
“Lee lives on through those she touched, and her flame burns brightly,” said her friend Richard Guarasci, president of Wagner College and chairman of the AAC&U board of directors. “Lee’s scholarship, and her work with AAC&U, had a profound, direct impact on a vast number of universities and colleges, and hundreds of faculty and scholars, in the areas of student moral development, diversity, inclusion and social equity.”
Knefelkamp was remembered for “her brilliant mind, of course, but also the love and caring and extraordinary generosity that were her hallmarks,” by her friend and long-time colleague Carol Geary Schneider, AAC&U president emerita.
“Lee’s friendship was a gift to me and a blessing in my life, and in the lives of all who knew her,” said her friend and Teachers College doctoral protégée Carin Guarasci.
A memorial service will be held later this year.
We invite you to watch Lee Knefelkamp deliver her 2018 commencement address, preceded by Walter Kaelber's introduction: