Blackburn College officially welcomed Dr. Mark Biermann as its newest president on Saturday October 16. Biermann has held the position of president for over a year now, but due to Covid restrictions hosting his inauguration was not possible until recently.
Biermann began his address as Blackburn College’s official President by pointing out some positive and negative aspects of Blackburn College, that other people had made. For this, he referenced a list made in 1987, Blackburn’s 150th year as an institution, of the perceived strengths and weaknesses of Blackburn College and community.
The list of strengths from 1987 contained entries such as, the overall quality of the academic program, a moderate cost and the Blackburn student-led Work program, and a strong sense of tradition.
The list of weaknesses included, a student population that was too low, the lack of visibility of Blackburn, as well as the College’s location, buildings that needed updating and modernizing, and “Negative attitudes of elements of the College.”
Biermann pointed out that the list from 1987 does not include one issue that is important to the Blackburn College of 2021, matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“We must commit ourselves to using language in a way that invites and never excludes. We must commit ourselves to being more welcoming, inclusive, and, well, kind.”
Biermann did not outline any plan to make and keep Blackburn a welcoming and inclusive space. He spoke generally about the college’s need to be welcoming and accepting of diverse populations and people.
Biermann did assure the audience of his commitment to fighting exclusion and discrimination in higher education and at Blackburn specifically, saying, “Blackburn College can and must become a more inclusive and equitable community. Blackburn College must be an example of how diverse people can live together in mutual affirmation and support. Blackburn College must be a model of anti-racism. It is a long road to follow, but it is a journey that we all must make, together.”
Biermann went over the list from 1987 pointing out improvements he has seen, has implemented, and some plans for the future of Blackburn College. In his address Biermann said, “in the short time that I have been here, I have found that, in general, we have a strong physical plant; that there are actually many advantages to the College’s location; that the Carlinville community is actually very supportive of Blackburn and that the community is proud that we are here… and that any negative attitudes on campus are highly localized and by no means systemic.”
To read the full story, see the October 21 edition of the Macoupin County Enquirer~Democrat.
By ERIN SANSON