David Knauft has held many titles – professor, researcher, associate dean – at four different universities over the course of his career, and for the last 19 years, he has found a home at the University of Georgia. He regards laying the groundwork for what became the Office of Service-Learning (OSL) as one of his most important contributions. Now, he and his wife, Evelyn, are continuing to support the university by establishing a planned gift to continue his legacy of teaching and service-learning at UGA.
David’s career in agriculture has included many accomplishments, including helping identify a mutation in peanuts that makes peanut oil healthier than olive oil. “Now, at least half the peanuts in the U.S. are grown with that characteristic,” said David.
A highlight of David’s time at UGA is creating and teaching Project FOCUS (Fostering Our Community’s Understanding of Science), an ongoing partnership between UGA and the Clarke County School District to improve science instruction in elementary and middle schools. The program partners UGA science majors with teachers in the Athens community to help teach science to children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
David started Project FOCUS while he was associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. Predating OSL, Project FOCUS was one of the first (and largest) courses in service-learning offered at UGA. Shannon Wilder, founding director of OSL, often refers to David as the “father of the Office of Service-Learning.”