Exploring the world is a natural fit for Vivian Knispel, ’71, and her husband, Herb. The couple even lived abroad—in Paris and Berlin—for seven years before returning to the states.
Vivian was a humanities professor at Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Fla., and Herb had a very successful engineering career, for which he was educated in his home country of Germany.
Because of their own educations and experiences, the Knispels believe the arts and humanities are the best fields of study to broaden students’ knowledge and understanding of the world around them.
“I feel like my education opened up the whole world and made my life so much more wonderful than it would have been,” Vivian says.
In an effort to help provide that opportunity to future students, they made a planned gift to establish an international visiting humanities professor in the College of Arts and Humanities. In addition to their passion for higher education and its ability to change lives, they also feel it is important to expose students to different cultures through the teachings of an international scholar.
“I think that part of the problem in this country is that we have so little education. It’s not enough—it’s not broad enough,” like it is in Europe, where her husband received his engineering education for free and learned to speak four languages, she explains.
“He can talk about history or music or any subject you want,” she says. “Not everybody may want to do those kinds of things, but for those who can and are willing, I think we need to encourage it. We need more Renaissance men and women.”
The Knispels have friends all over the world, and they feel that’s important because they say it shows them that every human being has the same worth. “You find out that people are much like everyone else, even though they dress differently or have a different language,” she says. “International education opens up the world to you. I think we have to invest in people and educate them.”
Her hope for the students who will benefit from this visiting professor 20, 30 or 40 years in the future? She says she hopes they will have international friends, and that their minds and hearts will be open to other people.
“I just think that education adds to your life,” she says. “It not only changes you who you are, but you can help other people. It’s the people of the world who are so wonderful.”