College of the Ozarks is establishing The William S. Knight Center for Patriotic Education on its campus, built by its staff and students, with completion slated for 2021. The Center will house the required Patriotic Education classes, attended by all college freshmen, as well as a variety of programs to foster good citizenship.
The Center is a physical embodiment of the patriotic goal of the College: to encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country, and the willingness to defend it.
“A patriotic goal for the College was established nearly 50 years ago, and we remain laser-focused on patriotic education as a key to fulfilling our vision of developing students of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hardworking, and patriotic,” said College President Jerry C. Davis. “Forty-three years as a college president gives one perspective on many things, including shifts in American culture and ideology.”
The patriotic education curriculum at College of the Ozarks includes a freshman-level course (Patriotic Education 103) that is required of all students and includes military science (which may lead to commissioning); civics (including American exceptionalism, U.S. flag code, capitalism versus socialism, events in American history); government (national, state, and local); and current events.
Senior-year students are required to take Patriotic Education 401, composed of a unique CitizenTrip™ to Washington, D.C. In the fall of 2019, the College took 150 students on the inaugural E. Bruce Heilman CitizenTrip™, a two-day intensive experience in the nation’s capital. This all-expense paid trip is foundational for the development of students as citizens, according to Davis. The itinerary for the trip includes stops at Arlington National Cemetery, the White House, the United States Capitol, and the National Archives Museum.
“No other college in America is taking such a leadership role with efforts of this magnitude,” Davis said. “The seeds of the anti-American sentiment were sown in the 60s, particularly on college campuses, and are now bearing fruit.”
Over the last five years, the College completed other significant projects to fulfill its patriotic educational goal. Patriots Park was completed in spring 2019 with the dedication of The Global War on Terrorism Memorial. Other memorials in the park depict all major wars of the twentieth century. The Lest We Forget 9.11 Memorial stands in the center of campus, where an annual commemorative service is held.
A signature program for the College is the Patriotic Education Travel Program. Since 2009, the College has financed trips for more than 150 Veterans and nearly 400 students who have traveled together on trips across the globe to visit battle sites in which these heroes fought.
“Reading books, watching documentaries, and writing papers could not have prepared me for the trip of a lifetime,” said Caleb McElvain, 2015 graduate and participant of the Patriotic Education Travel Program. “Hearing stories from Veterans and seeing their eyes gaze upon the ground where they risked their lives, I began to understand how their time in the Vietnam War changed them. I began to change as well.”
More about The William S. Knight Center for Patriotic Education
The William S. Knight Center for Patriotic Education began as a renovation to an existing building on the College of the Ozarks campus last summer. The Center contains more than 6,700 square feet and will feature patriotic education classrooms, military science classrooms, a drill room, and a media center for producing resources for schools and the public.
The William S. Knight Foundation is named for Bill Knight, an ardent patriot who worked vigorously to protect Americans’ liberties and free enterprise system. In 2019, the William S. Knight Foundation granted College of the Ozarks funds in order to make The William S. Knight Center for Patriotic Education a reality.
“The overarching purpose of the Center is to better prepare our students to reestablish the America our founders intended,” said Dr. Marci Linson, vice president for patriotic activities and dean of admissions.