Blackburn College welcomes new president
By: JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer-Democrat Sports Reporter
During the hiring process for its new president, Blackburn College was looking for someone who went above and beyond the accomplishments of maintaining several educational degrees. Omaha native Julie Murray-Jensen was chosen as the new president and will be inaugurated Saturday.
Murray-Jensen graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in the field of business. She then went on to recieve two educational degrees from Bowling Green (1994) and Oregon State University in Corvallis (2018).
In terms of faculty and teaching experience, Murray-Jensen has specialized in business leadership, health and wellness, intercultural human resources and college success. In addition, she has also recieved many awards – including the 1993 Conflict Mediation Provider (Bowling Green State), 1993-94 Hall Government Advisor of the Year (Bowling Green State), 1993-94 Outstanding Graduate Staff Member (Bowling Green State), 1995 Outstanding New Professional (NASPA Region IV-West), 2001 Advisor of the Month (National Residence Hall Honorary), 2009 NODA National Publications Award For Family Handbook and the 2015 Women’s Community Leadership Award (Kalamath County Retired Educators).
Prior to becoming a member of the Blackburn family, Murray-Jensen served as Vice President of Enrollment & External Affairs, Executive Foundation Director and Vice President of External Programs at Kalamath Community College.
In addition to her accomplishing the feat of being chosen as a college president, Murray-Jensen recieved the blessing of being hired onto the university staff that was the number one choice on her list.
“I had kind of fallen in love with the work-college model when I was doing my doctorate at Oregon State. I studied this model for a couple of years and I loved the concept – the broad liberal arts, very adaptable degree, high quality rigorous techniques meshed together with these very relevant work skills to get students jobs in the 21st century. So, when I saw the opening, I did a really selective search and I wanted to be here. I was very fortunate that the committee wanted that too,” said a thankful Murray-Jensen.
Although it is a Division III school, Murray-Jensen is all-in that Blackburn College is the nation’s best university in terms of getting students involved outside of the classroom and into high quality job markets.
“We are very laser-focused on how we support our students in terms of being really competitive in a global economy with work skills, problem solving, critical thinking and decision-making. I take pride in the intersection between the work program,
skill building, the curriculum and the outer-class experience. So, the goal is to figure how all of these things work together in a very distinct way that nobody else has. I feel that we have a tremendous competitive edge when you combine all of these things in a very compelling way,” Murray-Jensen says.
From the first second that she stepped onto this campus, Murray-Jensen immediately became a strong believer that the college community of Carlinville was a diamond to be found in a giant pile of rocks. She wants to make sure that high school graduates everywhere do not miss out on this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.
Murray-Jensen advises, “I would encourage nearly any student to come to Blackburn College. Having been in both the four-year university and community college system, I feel like our model has the best of both worlds. You get that four-year starting degree that’s going to lead to higher wages as well as the skills that you can adapt to the marketplace. If things are automated or your profession changes, you still get those practical work skills that’s going to make you into someone that people want to employ. To me, when I think about all of my past experiences, this is the greatest of them all.”
Murray-Jensen is ecstatic about several aspects of this position, but she is mostly excited and honored to use her many gifts in order to help her Blackburn Beavers with whatever they may need to succeed.
“I feel like I’ve had plenty of opportunities to directly impact students, to work closely with faculty & staff in terms of what they do and how people learn the curriculum. I’ve also learned to really work towards telling the story of what we do for the community. I have a lot of experience with various aspects of college,” stated Murray-Jensen.
Murray-Jensen will be officially inaugurated as Blackburn College’s 17th president on Saturday, Feb. 16. The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. in the Bothwell Conservatory on the Blackburn College campus. A reception will follow in the adjoined Visual Art Center. For more information regarding this event, call Pete Oswald at (217)-854-5781 or Teresa Kirk at (217)-854-5775.
Newly hired Blackburn College President Julie Murray-Jensen (right) meets with student Brayton Gibbs to discuss some fundamentals of business and share some advice about college in general. Enquirer-Democrat photo by Jackson Wilson.