Position Overview

Download Position Profile

The Board of Trustees invites nominations, applications and expressions of interest for the position of President of Blackburn College, a private liberal-arts college with a student-managed work program located in Carlinville, Illinois, where students learn, work, and earn. The President is the chief executive officer and anticipated to assume office on August 1, 2020. 

Blackburn is a rarity in American higher education, a model that combines long-term financial strength, affordability, and high academic quality, while focusing on first generation and low-income students. Its one-of-a-kind student-managed Work Program creates a financial framework for genuine access and affordability for all, enhances a strong liberal arts curriculum with experiential learning, fosters a campus culture where all workers are respected for their contribution, and offers graduates a four-year head start that allows them to excel in graduate schools, professional programs, and the workplace. Blackburn College inspires dedication, not simply for its laudable philosophy, but because this College lives up to those ideals. Its students Learn, Work and Earn. 

Blackburn was founded in 1837, and has maintained its required Work Program as a key part of its mission for over a century.  Blackburn College’s Work Program provides the primary workforce for the operation of the college, is the only one of the eight work colleges in the nation that is student managed, and involves all residential students. The college is related to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is committed to helping students develop their own life values and religious perspectives. 

The features that distinguish Blackburn College are a strong academic liberal arts program of study, comprehensive student led Work Program, low cost of attendance and best value compared to competition, excellence and stability of faculty and leadership, and rural location in a “Best Small Town” on a major Amtrak line between Chicago and St Louis. The college offers majors in 17 disciplinary areas spanning the traditional liberal arts, sciences, and selected professional fields. Students compete in athletics in the NCAA Division III as part of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. A student faculty ratio of 11 to 1 provides a wonderful opportunity for personal attention and numerous leadership experiences. The college operates with a $16 million-dollar operating budget and has net assets of approximately $53 million, including $32 million in unrestricted funds. On this 80-acre campus, students in the Work Program have constructed most of the buildings. The campus has six residence halls and a vibrant student life program for a student body that consists largely of students from Illinois and surrounding states.

The college seeks a President who is an entrepreneurial visionary able to inspire purposeful collaboration, is committed to fundraising and careful fiscal management of resources, actively supports diversity, and has administrative experience along with a commitment to the Work Program and to scholarship and teaching in a higher education setting. The successful candidate will also understand collegial decision-making, have skills to live and prosper in a rural environment, bring credentials and knowledge that will enhance the reputation of the college, and be committed to significant interaction with students to inspire high standards of achievement and help build community spirit. 

Nominations and Applications

To assure full consideration, applications should be received by February 28, 2020, and must include (1) a comprehensive letter of interest that addresses how the candidate meets the Search Committee’s preferred qualifications and the institution’s opportunities for leadership, as described in the search prospectus, as well as a diversity statement describing what diversity means to you and why it is important; (2) a complete curriculum vitae; and (3) five professional references with e-mail addresses and phone numbers provided. (References will not be contacted without prior permission from the applicant).  

Applications should be submitted electronically (MS Word or Adobe PDF) to the chair of the Search Committee, Col. Michael Smiley, at Nominators and prospective applicants may also contact executive search consultants, Dr. Melissa Trotta at or Ms. Kimberly Templeton at

For additional information about Blackburn College, please visit:

Blackburn College is an Equal Opportunity Employer and seeks to build an inclusive community that can engage the interests of a diverse population. We are committed to fostering, cultivating, and sustaining a culture that reflects the diversity of our country, and as such, we particularly encourage applications from members of underrepresented groups such as women, people of color, LGBTQ+, veterans, and those with disabilities. Employment –based immigration sponsorship is not offered for this position.