CARLINVILLE – Blackburn College has temporarily filled a leadership vacancy with the naming of an interim President.
Dr. Jennifer Braaten, who spent fifteen successful years as President of Ferrum College in Virginia, will serve in an interim capacity as Blackburn conducts a nationwide search for a permanent President. Braaten assumes her duties at Blackburn on July 1.
She replaces Dr. John Comerford, who is leaving after five years in the position to accept the Presidency of Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio.
At Ferrum, Braaten spearheaded two capital campaigns totaling $50 million and led the school in an array of building projects. During her tenure, Ferrum nearly doubled its enrollment while strengthening its academic offerings.
In a statement, Hazel Loucks, chair of the Blackburn Board of Trustees, praised Braaten’s track record and abilities.
“Dr. Braaten brings strong experience to Blackburn as a former college president,” said Loucks. “She will complement the initiatives already underway at Blackburn, and we are excited to welcome her. The board is confident she will provide the leadership needed at Blackburn while the search for a permanent replacement continues.”
In her own statement, Braaten expressed enthusiasm for her new position. “It is an honor and privilege to serve Blackburn College as an interim president,” she said. “The mission, the history, and the outstanding accomplishments of the faculty, staff, and students at Blackburn are extremely impressive.
“The Blackburn Promise provides accessibility,” added Braaten, “and the combination of a liberal arts curriculum, the student-managed Work Program, and high-impact learning creates the optimum student life experience.”
A Minnesota native, Braaten received both her master’s and doctorate in education from Florida Atlantic University. In addition to her time at Ferrum, she also served as President of Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, Neb., and was Academic Dean and Provost / Vice President of Academic Affairs at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., where she also served as professor of history.
Braaten will become the 22nd President in the history of Blackburn College, which was founded in 1837.