Lindenwood University-Belleville campus president Jerry Bladdick will be taking his talents to south Florida.
Bladdick confirmed Monday that he has accepted the position of assistant vice president and director of continuing studies and special programs at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla.
“I am pleased and honored to have been offered this opportunity at Ringling College of Art and Design. Ringling is an outstanding institution as is evident from its faculty, its graduates and its national rankings,” Bladdick said in a release. “There is an incredible opportunity for first-rate continuing education and lifelong learning in the Sarasota area, and Ringling College is the right institution to meet these continuing education needs.”
By accepting the Florida job, Bladdick will have to vacate his Lindenwood job in September, about three months earlier than expected. He originally planned to leave in December.
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Lindenwood University President Michael Shonrock said Monday that he’s currently in the process of finding Bladdick’s replacement in Belleville and that he hopes to make an announcement by July 1. A new Belleville leader is one of the first things on Shonrock’s to-do list. He started as president of the Lindenwood University system June 1, replacing James Evans.
Bladdick said Monday that it’s time for “a set of new eyes” to oversee the growth of the Lindenwood-Belleville campus.
“It’s just time,” Bladdick said of his departure. “It’s time for someone with a new agenda to take over. But I am proud of the foundation that has been poured here.”
Hired as vice president and chief administrative officer of the Belleville Lindenwood campus in July 2009, Bladdick was promoted to campus president in May 2013.
He is credited with increasing the number of degree programs Lindenwood-Belleville offers from 12 to 38 during his time with the school and the number of students enrolled from 450 in 2010 to more than 2,000.
Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said he has stayed in close contact with Lindenwood leaders and that he’s confident the next person in charge of the Belleville campus will continue Bladdick’s vision of growing the campus.
“I think we have just seen the tip of the iceberg,” Eckert said. “I believe Lindenwood will continue to grow in Belleville and be a real jewel of the community.”
Bladdick said it is difficult to say goodbye to a place where he invested so much time and energy.
“I’ll miss the staff and the community leaders who worked so closely with us,” Bladdick said. “But I’ll miss the students the most. The ones who took a chance on us when we didn’t even have any dorms for them.”
Since Lindewood opened its Belleville campus at the former site of Belleville Township High School West 11 years ago, the school has grown from an institution that offered only night classes in education and law enforcement to a full-time, full-service university.
Lindenwood has completely renovated the nearly 100-year-old former high school site, built two dormitories and purchased dozens of surrounding buildings, many of which have been converted into student housing.
The investment Lindenwood has made in the Belleville campus is estimated by campus administrators at more than $25 million.
Bladdick said he had no job plans when he announced his intention to leave Lindenwood six months ago, but his goal was to find a place to work in the Sarasota area because he has a home there where he wanted to live full time.