William “Bill” R. Link ‘72 has pledged $500,000 to Blackburn College to create the Elaine S. Link Endowed Professorship in Biology. This planned estate gift was established by Link to ensure that his wife’s legacy will further the mission of Blackburn College and provide ongoing support to the Biology Department that meant so much to her.
Endowed professorships recognize exceptional achievement and provide permanent financial support for research, equipment, resources, and innovative endeavors allowing faculty to go “above and beyond” in their work. But they also directly benefit Blackburn students. “With our small class sizes and nationally-recognized Work Program, students work side-by-side with faculty allowing them incredible mentoring opportunities not available at most undergraduate institutions,” Sarah Koplinski, Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Blackburn, explained. “A gift like Mr. Link’s honors our tradition of providing an education with immeasurable student outcomes.”
Dr. James Bray, Professor of Biology at Blackburn and close friend of the Link family, shared, “We are honored that people believe in what Blackburn College offers students, and this very generous gift is a testament to all we do and the lives touched by the college. A heartfelt thank you to my friend.”
Elaine Link’s lifelong love for science led her to Blackburn, finding a perfect fit in the College’s renowned biology program. Blackburn’s professors would challenge and inspire her to learn all she could about life sciences, and eventually share that passion with others. Making friends came naturally to Elaine, and she loved the school’s tight-knit community. Bill was one of those friends when they met on campus in 1969. They married between their junior and senior years, living in Butler Hall, where Bill served two years as a resident assistant. “Each friendship was important to her, and the friends she made at Blackburn and the church were among her closest.”
After graduating from Blackburn in 1973, Elaine took the knowledge she gained and dedicated her life to teaching biology and environmental science at schools in White Hall, Ashland, and Carlinville. “So many students benefited from her excellence in teaching and her desire to learn by doing,” Link said. “For more than 32 years, she had a profound impact on many young people, touching their lives in life-changing ways.”
During their time at Blackburn, they each loved being a part of the College’s unique Work Program, where students gain real-life work experience to help build a resume while reducing the cost of earning a college degree. Bill worked in New Construction and Maintenance, helping to build Lumpkin Library on campus. Elaine gained hands-on experience in academics, working in the Biology and Music departments.
She loved learning new things and sharing her knowledge with others. Throughout her life, no matter the topic, she approached learning as an opportunity for self-improvement. Her hobbies included sewing, quilting, fishing, jewelry-making, and needlework. “She was an accomplished pianist and organist, and music was her favorite activity after education,” Link said. She was an accompanist for many churches and choirs, including the Blackburn Choir while she was a student, and helped re-establish the Handbell Choir at the Carlinville United Methodist Church. “She was always driven by her desire to try something she had never done before.”
He added, “Elaine’s modesty may have protested the idea of this recognition, but her family, friends, former students, and all who loved her know this is an honor she truly deserves.”