Donald R. Knauss


Bicentennial Medal (2020)
Presidents Circle Laurel Pin (2016)
College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award (2009)
Indiana University Bloomington
B.A., 1977


The Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences has announced the creation of new undergraduate scholarships funded by alumnus and former Clorox CEO Donald R. Knauss and his wife, Ellie M. Knauss.

Totaling $2 million and qualifying for the university's For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign match, the Knauss Family Scholarship will annually fund more than $150,000 worth of new scholarships for students admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences through its selective direct-admit program. The scholarships aim to bolster the enrollment of outstanding students who would be unlikely to attend IU Bloomington without financial assistance.

"The establishment of the Knauss Family Scholarship speaks not only to Don and Ellie's incredible generosity but also to their commitment to the liberal arts and sciences," Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie said. "Thanks to the Knausses' gift, even more students will have access to the College of Arts and Sciences' time-honored education, preparing them to engage in well-rounded, meaningful careers. We're extremely grateful for Don and Ellie's gift, and for their continued commitment to our university."

Don Knauss, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from IU Bloomington in 1977, has spent decades in key leadership positions at a number of Fortune 500 companies. From 2006 to 2014, he served as chairman and CEO of The Clorox Co. Prior to his time at Clorox, he served as president and chief operating officer of Coca-Cola North America and worked in other positions with PepsiCo Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. He has also served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Spanning all of his leadership experience, Knauss cites his liberal arts education as a central part of his success.

"A liberal arts education gives you a better understanding of what motivates people and how that motivation may differ across cultures," he said. "Given how interconnected the world has become, having a much broader education and understanding of myriad cultures is why the College of Arts and Sciences is such good preparation for whatever you want your career to be."

College of Arts and Sciences Executive Dean Larry D. Singell called the Knauss family's gift "remarkable" and pointed to Don Knauss' career as a paragon of what an arts and sciences' graduate can achieve.

"The Knauss Family Scholarship is remarkable both in its generosity and in its scope," Singell said. "It will allow us to attract even more outstanding students across all our disciplines, from the arts and humanities to the natural and mathematical sciences. Regardless of their majors, these students will benefit from Don and Ellie's philanthropy -- and from the model of success that Mr. Knauss represents."

In discussing his family's desire to give back to IU Bloomington, Knauss cites hall-of-fame baseball player Jackie Robinson as one of his heroes, mentioning in particular Robinson's dedication to the well-being of others.

"There's a quote on Robinson's tombstone that I've always thought is a good philosophy for life," he said, "and that is, 'A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.' And that's the only thing on his tombstone. There's nothing about his Army career. There's nothing about his hall-of-fame career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It's just that quote, and that's something my wife and I have really embraced over the years."

This gift contributes to Indiana University's $2.5 billion bicentennial campaign. In 2020, Knauss was awarded Indiana University's Bicentennial Medal in recognition of his distinguished contributions and longstanding support of the university.