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Oldest alum, at age 107, gives $300,000 days before his death

Oct 27, 2014

George Knoles, an esteemed historian whose family played a pivotal role in University of the Pacific’s past, contributed to future students’ success by giving $303,000 toward a graduate student scholarship at his alma mater just days before his death on Aug. 27 at the age of 107.

The Barker-Knoles Endowed Scholarship, established in 2000 by Knoles and his late wife, Amandalee Barker, provides scholarships for female graduate students in history and the humanities at University of the Pacific. Barker also graduated from Pacific.

Knoles as a student at Pacific and as a professor at Stanford
Left - George Knoles during his college years at Pacific
(Photo credit: University of the Pacific archives)
Right - George Knoles during his years as a professor of
history at Stanford (Photo credit: Stanford University)

“We are honored by the Knoles family’s great legacy at University of the Pacific,” said Pacific President Pamela Eibeck. “George and Amandalee deeply believed that women should enjoy the same academic opportunities as their male counterparts. They opened the door for more women to pursue graduate education by funding a scholarship endowment that will help students at Pacific for many decades to come.”

A memorial service for Knoles was held Saturday in Palo Alto. Knoles, a professor of American history at Stanford from 1935 until his retirement in 1972, was the son of former Pacific President Tully Knoles, who oversaw the university’s move from San Jose to Stockton in 1924.

George Knoles became a member of the inaugural class at the Stockton campus, where he met his future wife. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history at Pacific in 1928 and 1930. Barker earned a bachelor’s degree in education at the university in 1930.

On Aug. 22, days before his death at his home in Palo Alto, Knoles saw to it that a final gift of $303,000 was transferred to the scholarship endowment.

The gift qualifies for dollar-for-dollar matching funds from the $125 million Powell Fund, doubling its impact. The Powell Fund was established by the late Robert and Jeannette Powell, former regents of the university. The Powell match brings the Knoles’ gift to a total of more than $600,000.

Tully Knoles served as president of what was then known as College of the Pacific starting in 1919. In addition to overseeing the institution’s move from San Jose, he helped raise vital funding in tough economic times and was a popular presence around campus. He served as president for 27 years, and another 13 years as chancellor.

George Knoles was the Margaret Byrne Professor of American History and department chair at Stanford. He wrote several acclaimed historical texts, along with many journal articles and book reviews. One of his books, “Readings in Western Civilization,” co-authored with fellow Stanford professor Rixford Snyder, became a standard college text.

Throughout the years, Knoles remained up to date with goings-on at Pacific, remarking upon President Pamela A. Eibeck’s appointment that it was high time the university had a female president. In 1995 he gifted Pacific with family memorabilia that are now part of the university’s archives. 

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