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Raise the Bar

by Jenalyn Reyes

The Office of Institutional Advancement is hosting a virtual speaker series called Raise the Bar that will last through the spring semester. There will be one topic discussion each month, and the first session was held on Jan. 30. The series is held through Zoom, allowing all students and faculty to access it regardless of whether they are remote or on campus.

“The Raise the Bar series was initially thought to be a town and gown event where the Office of Alumni Relations would bring Blackburn staff and faculty into the Carlinville community through local eateries to educate community members on the exciting projects that students, staff, and faculty have going on campus,” said Alisha Kapp, Executive Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations. “Since COVID derailed that format, it was decided to take the Raise the Bar concept and to expand it to a virtual speaker series throughout the Spring 2021 semester.” 

The goal of the virtual speaker series for everyone at Blackburn College to connect and learn about current projects on campus even while social distancing is still in place. “Many of the topics created were based on the expressed interest of Blackburn faculty and the topics they chose to lecture on,” Kapp said.

The first session was titled “Bees, Trees, and Solar.” “I probably spent 1-2 hours putting this particular presentation together, but I was using materials and information that I or others have spent many hours collecting as part of our daily job,” said Chris Burnley, Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance, who spoke about solar power at the first Raise the Bar session. “I appreciate the opportunity to share the great work that Blackburn College employees and Trustees did in creating the solar array, which began as a suggestion from Trustee Cress Maddox. It is my hope that other people could duplicate our success, and install similar renewal energy resources that are financially viable.”

The next session will be about music and theatre, and it will be run by Professor Laura Matthews and Professor Joseph Welch. “We have met a few times this semester to discuss our presentation,” said Matthews. “Most of our work can be done individually since we will be talking about our own programs.” 

They plan to talk about how students have been participating in music and theatre this school year through virtual performances. They also plan to speak about a new competition that is geared toward helping students to receive more feedback for their work. “We want to bring more awareness to what we as a department are creating this year with our students as well as what we hope for the future,” Matthews said.

Kapp said, “The Raise the Bar Virtual Speaker Series, although a product of the Office of Alumni Relations, remains open for anyone to participate.  Students, staff and faculty are welcomed to join us to hear first hand what awesome things are happening around campus.”


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