Donor Profile: Eric Blackhurst ’83
The mentorship of Dr. M.J.J. Smith had a powerful impact on Eric Blackhurst ’83.
“M.J.J. was a giant,” says Blackhurst, assistant general counsel for The Dow Chemical Company in Midland. “His will to serve students was unprecedented. All he cared about was students.”
Smith, the former Reid-Knox Professor of History and the driving force behind Alma’s pre-law program, was a master of getting the most out of students and inspiring them to produce tangible results, says Blackhurst.
Eric Blackhurst ’83
“He helped us as students go places we never thought in our wildest imaginations we could go,” he says. “There are professors who continue to do that today at Alma. Taking students overseas, showing them parts of the world that can enrich their lives but also with focus on being productive citizens of the world. That to me is what Alma College is about.”
Blackhurst, who has worked at The Dow Chemical Company for 20 years, applies many of the life lessons he learned from Smith in his profession and with his staff.
“The way we do that is through inspiration and demonstrating to others that I am as committed to them as they possibly could ever think I am,” he says.
Blackhurst, who grew up in Midland, first was introduced to Alma College as a high school student when he filled out a card at a College recruitment fair and checking “pre-law” as a career interest. M.J.J. Smith started calling Eric’s mother to influence Eric to come to Alma.
He not only met his wife, Deb ’83, at Alma, Eric’s Alma Experience proved to be a springboard to a successful career.
“Alma helped me to appreciate the things I enjoy most in life, such as music, history, religion and other cultures,” he says. “When I got to Alma, I had mentors who took me under their wing and told me I could see the world, learn new ideas, be productive and gain a broader perspective of the world. And so at Alma I studied for a term in Madrid, Spain, took art history classes, learned to appreciate music, and studied influential spiritual writers like Henri Nouwen in religious studies class. All that came directly out of the liberal arts experience at Alma.”
In appreciation of their Alma experiences, the Blackhursts have continued to support Alma College through their financial gifts and by attending homecoming and alumni receptions.
Eric and Deb are the parents of three children: Rachel, a 2010 Alma College graduate; Joey, age 19, who is attending Columbia College in Chicago; and McKenna, 17, a senior at Midland Dow High School.