Dr. William Edward Knight

June 6, 1965April 7, 2021

Dr. William Edward Knight of Fairfield, Ohio passed away at his home on April 7, 2021. William, better known to his family and friends as Bill was a loving husband and pet parent. Bill is predeceased by his parents William Knight and LaVerne (Reedman) Knight. He is remembered by his devoted wife, Adriene (Kelly) of more than 28 years, mother-in-law Ruth (Kimble, Kelly) Williams, father-in-law Eugene Kelly (Sue), sister-in-law Robin (Kelly) Schlaegel (Doug), nieces, nephew, great-nieces and nephews, and close friends Greg & Donna Rogers, along with his pets Clyde, Sullivan, Sebastian (aka Mr. Gray), Sophie, and Cordelia.

He loved great food, had superb taste in Scotch, was a wonderful storyteller, and valued family and friendship. Though his passion was education, Bill’s hobby was collecting model trains focusing on Erie, and P&LE diesel locomotives and rail cars with an impressive train layout sporting several different rail lines and a gigantic mountain. Bill was learning Scottish Gaelic and quickly became proficient. He possessed an eclectic taste in music, enjoyed walking and trying new things (except bungee jumping and skydiving). Bill was well loved by family, friends and those who knew him. He will be greatly missed by all.

Bill was born in Warren, Ohio in 1965. He graduated from Warren Western Reserve high school in 1983.

The value Bill placed on education was evident in the support and encouragement he offered to others as they worked through their education. After he finished high school, Bill completed his bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education in 1987 graduating from Kent State University Cum laude. He quickly moved into a master’s program at Kent State University and in 1989 graduated with a master’s degree in Higher Education/Student Personnel. From there, he received his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration with a cognate in Institutional Research. His dissertation was entitled: An examination of freshmen-to-senior gains for a national sample of institutions with different general education requirements using a mixed-effect structural equation mode in 1992. After Bill earned his Ph.D., he endeavored to continue learning and in 2014 completed the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education at Harvard University. In 2015 he went on to complete Principles and Techniques of Fundraising at The Fundraising School, Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy. The last of his formal education was in 2016 with the Lean Fundamentals Workshop at Miami University.

William E. (Bill) Knight was Assistant Provost for Institutional Research and Effectiveness at Miami University. His responsibilities include leading the institutional research function and providing leadership and support to faculty and staff colleagues for assessment of student learning, supporting the strategic planning process, facilitating institutional- and department-level accreditation, and coordinating the academic unit review process. He is a founding member, past president, and a past member of the Board of Directors of the Association for Higher Education Effectiveness, and past president, past forum chair and a past member of the Board of Directors of the Association for Institutional Research. He received the BGSU BG Best Award in 1998, the BGSU Timothy D. King Friend of Student Affairs Award in 2009, the NASPA Region IV-E Outstanding Contribution to Higher Education Award in 2010, and the AIR Outstanding Service Award in 2013.

He also served as a Peer Reviewer and Team Chair for the Higher Learning Commission regional accreditation association. He has consulted on institutional research, assessment, and accreditation at several institutions. He was previously an institutional researcher and faculty member at Ball State University, Bowling Green State University and Georgia Southern University and an institutional researcher at Kent State University, and has served as a visiting scholar at Shandong University (China) and the University of Michigan.

His professional and scholarly interests include the impact of college on students and leadership and effectiveness within the fields of institutional research effectiveness. He has authored or co-authored 36 peer-reviewed and invited publications, including Leadership and Management in Institutional Research: Enhancing Personal and Professional Effectiveness, edited the Primer for Institutional Research, served as co-editor of The Handbook for Institutional Research and Building Bridges for Student Success: A Sourcebook, carried out 152 peer-reviewed and invited conference presentations, webinars and workshops, made several keynote addresses at regional and state conferences, and served as a member of 64 dissertation and thesis committees.

It is evident that Bill also gave tremendously to professional organizations including volunteer and mentorship opportunities. He started his membership early on in his career being part of the Association for Institutional Research (AIR). Though he began as a member, Bill participated in many key committees and positions including as a Forum Committee Member for multiple committees. He was the founder of The Doctoral University Data Exchange, he was the Chair of the Forum (the annual meeting of members of AIR), a member of the Board if Directors, Vice President, and President of the organization.

Bill also held positions within and contributed to many other professional organizations including: The University System of Georgia, Ohio Associational for Institutional Research and Planning (President 1999-2000), Northeast Association for Institutional Research, the International Coalitions for Electronic Portfolio Research, and the Indiana Association for Institutional Research.

Bill’s life and career were clearly marked by his willingness to give to others of his time, expertise, and resources both personally and professionally.

A Celebration of Bill's Life will take place on Thursday, May 27, 2021 from 6pm until 9pm at Bowling Green Beer Works, 322 N. Grove Street, Bowling Green, Ohio 43402 in their Gallery. Condolences may be left for the family at


27 May

Celebration of Bill's Life

6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Bowling Green Beer Works


322 N. Grove Street
Bowling Green, Ohio 43402


Dr. William Edward Knight

have a memory or condolence to add?

Robert Zhang

May 5, 2021

The sad news of Bill's sudden death shocked me very much. I lost a very good and very closed friend. The nation lost a very talented Institutional Research expert.

Bill hired me at Bowling Green State University in 1997. During the campus interview, Bill told me that there was no IR office at BGSU at all. Before he came one year ago, a professor and a graduate assistant from the Higher Education Department worked on IPEDS reports which were mandatory by the federal law. That means Bill was the founding member of the Office of Institutional Research at BGSU. Since then, I had worked with Bill for 14 years. I really learned a lot from him during that unforgettable time. Whenever I had a problem on some IR projects, Bill would be very patient to guide me until the problem was solved.

In 1998-99 academic year, I was the Chair of Overseas Chinese Association for Institutional Research (OCAIR), which was established in 1996 as an AIR-Special Interest Group (SIG). One of goals in my tenure of office was to promote the OCAIR from AIR-SIG to AIR Affiliate. Bill gave me a great assistance by introducing me to some leaders in other AIR affiliates in state and/or regional level, such as OAIRP, NEAIR, etc. Therefore, I could learn how to prepare the documents for applying the AIR Affiliate for OCAIR. Before submitting all the applying documents including organization's constitution and bylaws, member lists, cover letters, etc., Bill helped me to review and edit the final version of all documents. With Bill's contribution, OCAIR finally was approved by AIR Board as a new AIR Affiliate in 1998. I and all OCAIR members appreciated Bill very much.

I will miss Bill forever.
Robert Zhang

Greg Rogers

May 4, 2021

I will never forget the day a young man from Warren, Ohio walked into my office at Kent State University and said he would like to work in Institutional Research. We hired him and the rest is history. I am so proud of what Bill went on to do in his career and I have told him many times. Even after I moved to Florida and retired, we spoke several times a week and remained the best of friends up until he passed.
Nationally we have lost one of our best in Institutional Research.
He was my greatest resource.
An awesome employee.
My best friend.
Bill may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.

Karen Hansen-Morgan

May 3, 2021

I first met Bill when he taught the IR course for my certificate in IR at Ball State. Then I was subsequently hired by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness which he directed while I worked on my doctorate. His support during that time was generous, compassionate, and everything I could have asked for in helping me develop skills in IR and higher education administration. He helped me parse out complicated statistical analysis for my dissertation. He supported ideas I had to expand training opportunities for faculty in assessment, along with my own professional development. When I was assigned to teach the IR course in my first faculty position, he generously shared his time, syllabus, and materials in order to help me prepare, and then attended as a guest lecturer. His knowledge of the IR field was vast and I was privileged to have learned about the field from him.

I was also privileged to be an attendee of the holiday parties he and Adrienne hosted, along with the dinners he organized at AIR and INAIR forums. A couple of memories stand out: at times the locations of the dinners were farther than anticipated, and my walking ability is limited. He made sure I was able to get to the destination safely and found a ride back for me afterwards. I echo Brittany's thoughts about him being there during the dark times and the bright ones. His ethic of care was phenomenal in all aspects of his life and he will be sorely missed.

Polly Prewitt-Freilino

May 1, 2021

My heart goes out to the Bill's family, especially his wife Adrienne. I was fortunate enough to meet Bill through a mutual friend during my first year as an Institutional Researcher. I will never forget his sense of humor, care for others, and knowledge of higher education. I spent a significant amount of meal and free time with him at various IR conferences. He was a great mentor and someone who was always there for advice. I remember celebrating my successful dissertation defense with him at my boss's house in Rhode Island, he introduced me to Scotch in 2007 and continued to share it, including on the Queen Mary Boat Hotel in 2013 and the last time at Newport in November 2019. I will never forget his contribution to IR and my own life. Bill you will be greatly missed! Thank you for everything!

Tom & Leslie Sams

April 30, 2021

Adriene, We knew Bill during his KSUTC days. We pray that God grants you comfort. We too will miss him.

Wanda Kover

April 30, 2021

I knew and worked with Bill back in the late 1980's during our KSUTC days. He was always a kind and helpful person who would do anything for someone in need.
He was truly one of the good guys. I'm very sorry for all who knew and loved him.

Deborah Lowman

April 30, 2021

My condolences to Bill's family. Having known him all through college, I saw first-hand his passion for institutional research and higher education learning. He was driven to improve the university experience for as many students as possible. Personally, I saw his tremendous love for animals and his willingness to help others. He will be truly missed.

Brittany Pittsenbarger-Moon

April 29, 2021

I could never put into words everything that Bill did for me both professionally and personally. He took a chance on me and gave me a great job opportunity at Ball State. I worked as Bill's assistant" from 2014-2019 when he left the university. Bill pushed me to go back to college and did everything he could to help me and then pushed me even harder to finish while I was going through a divorce. Bill and his wonderful wife never missed a birthday party for my kids and always made us feel like family. Bill grieved with me in dark times and celebrated with me in happy. I love Bill (and Adrienne) and will miss him forever.

Tony Audia

April 29, 2021

Adriene I’m so sorry about Bill’s passing. I’ve been praying for you in this trying time. He will definitely be missed by all who loved him. God bless!

Jenny Treon

April 27, 2021


My Thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. I am so very sorry for your loss.

Jenny Treon