John Comerford became Blackburn’s 16th President on July 1, 2013. He came to Blackburn because he believes in our mission to provide a first-class liberal arts education to qualified students regardless of their financial means. He has traveled the state and nation sharing this ideal – that a college education must remain affordable to all, in fact the future of our democracy depends on it.
Prior to 2013, John worked at Westminster College in Missouri, Missouri Western State University, and Ball State University. He served in student affairs roles, where he learned how to best relate to and support today’s students. He also worked in advancement and saw how alumni and friends of the institution can create opportunities for future generations.
In his years at Blackburn, the College has enjoyed several key accomplishments:
- Growth in enrollment, led by a 50% increase in freshman class sizes.
- Renovation of facilities, including the Bothwell Conservatory, the Jaenke Alumni Center, the Lumpkin Learning Commons, and the Woodward Fitness Center.
- Creation of new academic programs, from Cybersecurity to Agriculture Business
- Completion of a record-breaking $26 million fundraising campaign.
John holds a B.A. from Western Illinois University, and M.S. from the University of Central Missouri, and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.
John grew up in Central Illinois, as did his wife Rachel. They and their three children live on Blackburn’s campus.