Lindenwood University-Belleville’s Brett Barger has earned the right to drop “interim” from his title.
University system president Michael Shonrock and Board of Trustees President Jim Shoemake announced Wednesday that Barger has been named president of the Belleville campus permanently after about six weeks of leading the campus on an interim basis.
“This is a great day for Lindenwood University and a great day for a great young man,” Shoemake said in making the announcement, adding that he was “distinctly giddy” about the hire of Barger.
Shonrock said he thought he had a lot of energy — until he met Barger.
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Barger said he was honored to be a part of Belleville, a community he said has a history of innovative leaders.
“I’m thankful for the forward-looking people of the city of Belleville and the support they have given us,” Barger said.
Barger said he believes Lindenwood-Belleville has only begun to reach its potential.
“I’m honored and humbled to be chosen to work with you toward that future,” Barger said. “The best days of Lindenwood-Belleville are yet to be.”
Barger has been in charge since former president Jerry Bladdick resigned effective, Aug. 1 to take a job in Florida.
The idea to appoint Barger to the job on an interim basis happened when Shonrock found himself in the position of searching for a replacement for Bladdick just a month after he assumed the Lindenwood system presidency from James Evans.
Barger said when he took the interim job that he hoped to be considered for the permanent position. A resident of Ballwin, Mo., Barger said his family is in the process of looking for a new home in the Belleville area.
St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, who was mayor of Belleville when city leaders convinced Lindenwood board members 12 years ago to consider the former Belleville Township High School site for a satellite campus, said he was thrilled to see Lindenwood continue to grow.
“We saw what they did at the St. Charles campus and thought it was a great indicator” of what was possible, Kern said. “It’s very important the people of Belleville and St. Clair County continue to support this school.”
Shonrock said he intensely investigated Barger’s ability to be a leader and build relationships before making the permanent decision.
“Every person we’ve talked to had wonderful things to say about the job he’s done,” Shonrock said. “We expect great things to happen here.”
Barger arrived at Lindenwood’s St. Charles, Mo., main campus as a student in 1994 and has studied or worked at the university ever since. He holds a doctorate, a master’s and a bachelor’s degrees from Lindenwood.
Bladdick, who was hired as chief operating officer of the Belleville campus and a vice president in the Lindenwood system in 2009 before being promoted in 2013 to become the first Belleville campus president, took a job as assistant vice president and director of continuing studies and special programs at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.