You may have seen them on the sidelines, in the stands, or heading off to meetings; but what does an athletic director really do? This summer, on each Friday, we will take you behind the desk with the heads of the athletic departments from St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference member institutions. This week's interview is with Blackburn College Director of Athletics, John Malin.
Malin has spent three decades on the Blackburn College campus. First as a student and member of the baseball, soccer, and golf teams and then moving on to the admissions staff before becoming the Athletic Director.
You have been at Blackburn for over 30 years, from student to admissions to coach to an administrator; how would you describe Blackburn College?
"Blackburn College is the only liberal arts college in the country with a student-managed work program. Through the blending of our strong academics and the College's Work Program, our students graduate not only with a rigorous liberal arts education but also with problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership skills that serve them for life. Blackburn provides an innovative and unique approach to a well-rounded education that has survived the test of time."
As you mentioned, Blackburn is a work college. Can you further explain what that means?
"Blackburn is one of only seven federally recognized work colleges in the nation and our Work Program is the only one that is student managed. Our students work a minimum of 10 hours per week and their work is essential to the operation of the campus. Students perform a variety of tasks and have a responsibility for everything from campus maintenance and food service to designing publications, computer technicians, work department managers, assistant coaches, tutors, or teaching assistants. The work program is organized into 12 working departments with a student manager for each department. The student department managers under the leadership of two general managers are responsible for hiring and training student workers, establishing work assignments, and schedules and evaluating work performance. For their work, all students receive annual work credit that reduces the cost of their education each academic year. The work program payoff, however, is much bigger than just reduced tuition cost. Students gain critical professional skills such as organization, time management, communication, and leadership and they assemble an impressive set of practical, transferable skills by doing work with a real purpose - a distinct advantage when they apply for jobs or graduate school."
You recently renovated the gym facility on campus. Why was that important for Blackburn and how was it made possible?
"We recently converted a swimming pool space in the Woodward Athletic Center to a state-of-the-art fitness center. The facility features a variety of cardio and weight equipment as well as space for dance, yoga, and other exercise classes. The renovation also included two varsity locker rooms, coaching offices, and the lobby and corridor area connecting the new fitness center to Dawes Gymnasium. The fitness center is a tremendous asset to the entire campus community. The facility was not only designed to serve the needs of our athletic teams but also for the general student population and faculty and staff members as well. The renovation project was made possible through funds raised as part of Blackburn's successful $25 million capital campaign.
For the fourth straight year year, your men's basketball team improved their win total and your men's golf team had their best finish in nearly a decade this past spring. What does it mean for the campus to have successful teams?
"Success for our athletic teams is important and serves as an additional source of pride for alumni, our student body and all others in the Blackburn community. Having successful teams also helps with recruiting prospective student-athletes as well as non-athletes to Blackburn."
What do you like most about being an athletic director and why did you take on the role?
"I have always had interest in sports and while I certainly enjoyed my many years in the admissions office at Blackburn, I always thought that working in athletics was something I wanted to do before finishing my career. I have found many rewards in this work but I most enjoy working with our coaching staff and our student-athletes in our ongoing efforts to enhance our programs and in assisting our students in developing a solid foundation for achieving their career and life goals."