On April 26, 2020, Professor Paul Knox passed away due to sudden illness.
Knox, an adjunct who taught mathematics and the summer EOF program, was a beloved member of the SPU community for ten years.
When he wasn’t teaching, he spent his time caring for his elderly uncle and traveling to his ancestral home of Ghana where he developed meaningful relationships with people of the Adamorobe village and frequently distributed medical and school supplies.
He was also known for his incredible musical ability and his devotion to living out his United Methodist faith.
Colleagues and students recall him as someone who was always checking in with others — the kind of person who asked ‘how are you doing?’ not out of habit or politeness but out of a place of deep and genuine empathy.
One of the most remarkable things about Knox was his warm and gentle presence, which gave him a unique ability to ensure that not a single student slipped through the cracks.
“I loved Professor Knox even though he was always on me about being a better student,” said QuaJanae James, a senior communication major.
Perhaps the best way to describe Professor Knox is as someone who embodied the Jesuit ideal of cura personalis, a Latin term meaning “care for the whole person.”
Angelica Jacobs, a senior and graphic arts major, remembers him as one of the best professors they’ve ever had.
“It’s hard for me to feel comfortable asking [for] help from teachers, but Knox always had this kind and comforting ‘dad’ energy,” said Jacobs. “He knew I was hella anxious, and he would always make sure I understood every lesson … Whenever I got a good grade on a test, he’d be like, ‘See? You were in your own head thinking you couldn’t do it, but I knew you could!’”
They describe him as someone who was willing to help everyone and eager to share stories of past students.
“He was always talking about how smart his wife was — even smarter than him,” said Jacobs. “I think about him often and will miss him always.”
Huascar Peña-Ramos, a senior communication major, remembers Knox as a “guiding voice” who knew “exactly what to say.”
“My sophomore year, I went to Professor Knox for some financial advice, but he ended up just giving me life advice,” said Ramos. “I was in a super, super dark time in my life — basically having a full-blown existential crisis. And Knox was like, ‘I’ve been there. I know exactly how you feel.’”
“Just to hear that somebody else had felt like this — it was something I never expected. He made me feel like shit was going to be okay.”