Lincoln College Trustee Bob Neal sponsored John
Blackburn as his recommendation for an honorary doctorate presented
at Lincoln College's 2019 Commencement.
Neal said Blackburn is a successful business man, recognized
community member, past President of Lincoln College. Mr. Blackburn's
outstanding service to Lincoln College dates back almost two
decades. He has served on a Board of Trustees as a member, Committee
Chair, Trustee Board Chair, and then as President of the college.
After serving as president, Blackburn returned to the board to chair
the committee 'Embracing our past, Empowering our Future'
"Returning to the board to lead a major fundraising campaign after
serving as president is truly unique in higher education," Neal
said, and a testimony to his commitment to Lincoln College, his
professionalism and his gracious demeanor.
His leadership in supporting Lincoln College has been consistent,
profound and unparalleled.
Credits to Blackburn's tenure as trustee and as president at Lincoln
- Launched and completed the construction of the Lincoln Center.
- Acquired the WLNX Radio Station building.
- Created a summer Bridge program to assist student transition.
- Opened the Dr. G. Dennis Campbell Creekside Outdoor Center for
- Established the College Athletic Hall of Fame.
- Expanded and moved the Lincoln Heritage Museum into the Lincoln
After being hooded, Blackburn took the podium. He began with a
little tongue in cheek humor by saying President Gerlach have him
five to seven minutes "to share all I know about successful
teaching, coaching, business and higher ed. The sad truth is, it's
probably enough time."
He first addressed the graduates, "Commencement is by far every
trustees favorite day of the year. It is the reason we accept the
responsibility of trusteeship. We, like your families,
administration, and your great instructors, are so proud of you for
reaching this milestone in your life long journey of learning."
In considering what to impart to the graduates this
day, Blackburn connected with legendary Cardinal announcer, Jack
Buck, who in his career and retirement said of himself, "I just
don't know, why I have been so blessed."
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Blackburn considered the gifts in his life - birth, just being
here; good parents, who sacrificed for their children, and laughing said, even
his in-laws and most recently, his youngest daughter boyfriend.
He offered these bits of wisdom to the grads
First, dream big and don't let anyone talk you out of those dreams.
Set measurable goals to help you, write them down and tell someone to keep
Figure out what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve those goals and dreams.
"Anything worthwhile requires some level of sacrifice."
Expect disappointments and setbacks; but never give up.
And, he passionately said, "Never miss an opportunity to thank
those who helped you."
When he challenged the Country Financial leadership team to thank someone in the
company every day, employee morale grew and growth exploded.
Thirdly, "Outwork everyone around you, even when you think no one is looking."
Be wary of critics. It has become in vogue in our society to criticize our
government, teachers, higher education, law enforcement, business success, and
economic system; all while America leads and defeats the world.
In all his travels of North America, Europe and South America, Blackburn noted
that there are no statues to critics. "I found statues to war heroes, famous
leaders, philosophers, artists, poets, athletes and religious leaders." But he
found no statues to critics. Why, he asked? Because critics just wait for
someone to have the courage to do something, and then pick it apart.
Also, he says, ignore those who tell you how much better things used to be (in
the old days). Your future is as bright as your choices and effort to make it.
Lastly he says, "Give back to your community, your favorite charities and your
college. Give in your time, talent and wealth."
Both Blackburn and his wife Barbara believe deeply in the philosophy, "To whom
much is given, much is required."
While being the first in his family to graduate high school and then college,
the Blackburn's giving began small when their income was less, but it grew and
they now sponsor scholarships at both their alma maters and give annually to the
Lincoln College Fund, in addition to other charities, church, and hospital by
service and donations. "We want to give back, Blackburn said.
In closing Blackburn said to the grads, "My wish for each of you is that someday
you can look back and say, "I don't know why..., I've been so blessed.""