Mark Lewis Biermann is the 18th President of Blackburn College. Dr. Biermann has spent his entire professional career in higher education, holding a range of positions at a number of different colleges and universities. Prior to arriving in Carlinville, IL, he served as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Valparaiso University in Indiana.
Originally from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, his first significant travel experience occurred when he was seven days old: an international trip to the United States. Dr. Biermann grew up in Alberta, Nebraska, and Michigan, and attended public schools until graduating from Gladwin High School in Michigan.
He enrolled at the University of Rochester and stayed there until completing his Ph.D. While all of his degrees are in Optics, his undergraduate emphasis was in optical engineering, but his graduate emphasis was the computational and theoretical study of quantum optics and the application of quantum optics to nano-devices and structures. He completed two internships at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, NY. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Phi Beta Kappa.
During his six years at Valparaiso, Dr. Biermann was responsible for all academic programs, student affairs, retention and student success, Chapel programs, the library, diversity and inclusion, innovation, and institutional effectiveness. He launched a comprehensive retention strategy that improved first-to-second year retention by 4.7% in 2019, year to year, and worked closely with leadership to implement a financial model that strengthened Valpo for long-term flourishing, including a $250 million comprehensive campaign.
Before assuming his role at Valpo, Dr. Biermann served as Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Eastern Kentucky University, the inaugural dean of the School of Natural and Applied Science at Taylor University, and as the Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Wartburg College. Additionally, he has been an assistant or associate professor of physics at Whitworth College, Buena Vista University, Houghton College, and the United States Naval Academy, where he first earned tenure.
Dr. Biermann is married to the former Lois Ann Aude of Waterloo, NY, who also earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Optics at the University of Rochester. Together they are raising two daughters, Grace and Hope.