Blackburn College Names Larry K. Lee as 20th President

Press Releases

Hudson Hall, the main academic building on the Blackburn College campus.
By Office of Marketing & Public Relations
On May 20, 2024

Mr. Larry K Lee, Vice President for Finance and Administration at St. Cloud State University, has been selected as the next President of Blackburn College. The appointment follows a comprehensive national search and the unanimous recommendation by the Presidential Search Committee and the Board of Trustees. Lee will succeed the retiring Dr. Gregory J. Meyer and begin his role as President on July 1, 2024.

Paul Tepikian ‘77, chair of the Blackburn Board of Trustees, cited Lee’s remarkable career achievements and his unwavering dedication to Blackburn’s mission of providing an affordable, life-changing education for underserved students among the reasons he emerged as the best possible candidate to lead Blackburn at this crucial moment. “Larry’s demonstrated leadership, innovation, and strategic vision position him as a catalyst to enhance our College, sustain the tremendous work and momentum our campus has generated, and help move us forward and shape Blackburn’s future,” Tepikian said. “Larry embodies a commitment to expanding access to a transformational liberal arts education, which is fundamental to Blackburn and our truly unique Work Program. He brings extensive administrative experience, a track record of success, and a significant understanding of the challenges facing higher education today. These characteristics will further enhance Blackburn’s reputation and ensure our continued success.”

He continued, “We are thrilled to welcome Larry and his family to the Blackburn community.”

During his nearly 30-year career in higher education, Lee has extensive experience in financial growth initiatives, facilities operations, fundraising and friend-raising, athletic and recreation programs, audits and budgeting, and strategic planning. He also brings a proven track record of developing new revenue streams at his previous positions, spearheading initiatives that help ensure financial stability. Since 2022, Lee has been the Vice President for Finance and Administration at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, providing leadership for the university’s business services, finance and administration, facilities management, bookstore, and campus dining services. He became acting President of SCSU on May 5, 2024, and will serve until the Interim President-Designate takes office after June 30.

Before this role, he was the Vice President of Finance and Administration, Facilities and Operations at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the Associate Dean of Student Affairs Operations and Auxiliary Services at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Vice President for Finance and Administration at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania; and served as the Associate Athletic Director for Ritchie Center Operations, Events and Recreational Services at the University of Denver in Colorado.

“Since my first encounter with Blackburn, I have been captivated by its storied history, vibrant community, and unwavering dedication to providing an affordable, rigorous education to underserved students,” said President-Elect Lee. “As a first-generation Pell-eligible student who worked on commercial fishing boats in Alaska to pay my way through college, I know first-hand how hard students work to achieve their educational dreams. By combining academic excellence and hands-on experience with its unique Work Program, Blackburn helps make a life-changing degree possible and serves as the very definition of a well-rounded education.”

Lee continued, “Thank you to the Search Committee, the Board of Trustees, the faculty, staff, students and alumni involved in this process. I am deeply honored and humbled by the trust the entire Blackburn College community placed in me to serve as its next president, and I am eager to work alongside them to continue transforming lives through education.”

Originally from Dupo, Illinois, Lee holds a Bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University-Pueblo and a Master’s from the University of Denver. He is married to Cathy Lee, who is originally from Bordeaux, France. She is an accomplished judoka who earned a silver medal at the Pan American Games in 1991 and served as an Olympic Team Alternate in 1992. The Lees are both looking forward to joining Blackburn and the Carlinville community. Their twin adult children, Gabrielle and Spencer, will be eager to visit.

Before embarking on his professional journey in higher education, he had a decorated career as a coach and administrator. Lee was a member of the coaching staff for the U.S. National Judo team and a member of the National Governing Body of the United States Judo Association, where he was Executive Director and Director of Fund Raising for the organization. He also served as head coach for the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) from 1990 to 1999. He coached the 1995 World Judo Team, the Paralympics teams in 1992 (Barcelona) and 1996 (Atlanta), and the 1998 World Men’s and Women’s Paralympic Teams. In 2017, he was inducted into the USABA Hall of Fame.

“I believe the strength of the Blackburn community and our system of shared governance played a significant role in our efforts,” Tepikian said. “We are confident that the foundation laid by this extensive process—involving input and deliberation from a wide range of faculty, staff, current students, alumni, and trustees—allowed us to choose the best leader for Blackburn College.”

Lee will be the 20th president in Blackburn College’s 187-year history.

About Blackburn College

Founded in 1837, Blackburn College is a four-year, Presbyterian-related, co-educational liberal arts college located in Carlinville, IL. One of only ten federally recognized work colleges, Blackburn is the only program in the nation that is fully managed by students. Balancing academic rigor and experiential learning, each student at Blackburn gains tangible experience and develops critical skills by contributing to their community, all while building a resume and earning their degree. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Blackburn College as one of the best colleges in the Midwest region for 2024. Blackburn also earned a top-ten ranking for social mobility. Blackburn has been listed as a top performer for social mobility each year the list has been published. The Washington Monthly ranked Blackburn first in Illinois for performance by students receiving Pell Grants in 2022 and 2023. The publication has twice ranked Blackburn as the best baccalaureate college in Illinois.