President Shirley Ann Jackson has announced the resignation of Athletics Director Jim Knowlton from the post he has held since March 2008 in order to accept the position of athletic director at the United States Air Force Academy, effective March 1.
In nearly seven years at Rensselaer, Knowlton has worked closely with President Jackson and administrators and faculty to foster excellence in all intercollegiate athletic teams, support student-athletes on and off the field, and in planning for the future, which includes key programs.
“This is an excellent example of a leader who has grown, through his Rensselaer experience, to take on an important role at another noteworthy institution of higher education,” said President Jackson. “Jim has created a culture of leadership and success in athletics that is centered around excellence in the classroom, and on the ‘field of friendly strife,’ as he often calls it. His encouragement and support of our student-athletes exemplifies the Rensselaer approach to providing a transformative student experience through Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students, or CLASS.”
Among Knowlton’s many accomplishments are filling numerous coaching and administrative support positions, improving two-way communication with the student-athletes, establishing an academic liaison program, and implementing an athletics branding initiative. He also increased revenue generation and enhanced fundraising, including the first-ever endowed head coaching position, helped to facilitate renovations to the Houston Field House, and worked with the president on the completion of the Rensselaer East Campus Athletic Village.
“I am forever indebted to Dr. Jackson for providing me the opportunity to be part of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute team,” Knowlton said. “It has been a privilege to serve our student-athletes who have done an incredible job balancing academic and athletic excellence every day. I have enjoyed working with our coaches and administrators who are tireless in their efforts to provide a superior developmental experience to our young men and women at this exceptional Institute. I have also appreciated being a part of the Capital District, which has truly embraced our student-athletes and our athletic department.”
Athletically, the department enjoyed a great deal of success under Knowlton. Eight teams made NCAA tournament appearances, including the Division I men’s hockey team for the first time in 16 seasons, the women’s lacrosse team, which advanced to the national quarterfinals for the first time ever, and the women’s cross country team, which made its first-ever national championship appearance.
Knowlton also represented Rensselaer nationally, serving on numerous committees, including his current roles on the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Executive Committee, the board of College Hockey Inc., and as chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee.
He was NACDA’s Division III northeast recipient of the Under Armor Athletic Director of the Year in 2011.