I did not know him at all — he was at the University of Oregon after my time there — but I was sad to learn of the death of Jeff McKnight from cancer. He sounds like he was a passionate, enthusiastic scientist, and we always need more of those.
This bit jumped out at me, though.
“Jeff was definitely someone special who saw his students as equals and not as anything lesser,” said Bryson Tyler Ricamona, a UO biology alum. “It was really enlightening and very motivating to know that somebody really believed in us, not only in the work that we’re doing now but the potential work that we could do in the future.”
McKnight supported students inside and outside of his lab. When someone tore down posters encouraging LGBTQ+ students to take part in STEM, McKnight printed and hung 50 new posters and talked to the UO science community about the incident. The posters disappeared the next day, so McKnight printed and hung 100 more.
“He cared very much about our community,” Orlandi said.
That sounds familiar — that was my experience at the UO, that the faculty were all committed activists and concerned about improving the world, so it sounds like he fit right in.
It’s too bad about the individuals tearing down posters, but I’ll trust that they were an obnoxious minority and not at all representative of the student body. I’ve noticed that every university has a few terrible people who have terrible ways of getting attention, and they’ve gotten worse in recent years.