Sac State remembers Thomas Knutson

Elizabeth Zelidon

A memorial for Professor Thomas Knutson was held at the alumni center where dozens of faculty, friends and family attended the event.

The welcoming speech remembering the professor who died Sept. 30 was given by Department Chair of Communication Studies, Steve Buss Monday at 7 p.m.

Buss said how one day Knutson asked him, “Steve are you on your way to teach or clean toilets?”, in regards to his attire. He elaborated on the topic by stating Knutson dressed as he lived, with high standards.

“Tom had high standards for himself, his students and his colleagues” Communications Studies professor, Val Smith said. “In a world where we keep dumbing down the standards he wouldn’t. This could get Tom in a little trouble. If you had a class with Tom and after three grammatical errors he would give it back.”

At the memorial, Smith remembered Knutson in a speech, listing aspects of the communications professor which are worth stealing: his leadership in cultural research, his academic credentials, his time spent as president of Phi Beta Delta, starting an exchange program for students to teach English in Thailand, his devoted marriage and the way he lived his life with a sense of humor.

Knutson was described by every colleague and friend in attendance as humorous. Spending time around him meant you would be laughing until you cried, according to Buss.

Friend, Chris Barr, who regularly attended friday night barbeques in Knutson’s backyard said he had an infectious wit.

In the farewell toast by Jonathan Biederer, from the Institute of International Studies Bangkok, Thailand, he emphasised what kind of professor Knutson was. After being diagnosed with cancer for two and a half years, Knutson kept things positive, believing he would burden someone by telling them the truth about his painful cancer.

Knuston taught at Sac State until 2 weeks before his death. On his last day of teaching, a student volunteered to take him to class in a wheelchair. As he was rolled into class, his students greeted him with a standing ovation.