Dean leaves DU to become president at St. Francis

By Victoria Joshua

Staff Writer    

April 17, 2013

As the seasons continue to change this year, the same is happening at Dominican as Arvid Johnson, dean of the Brennan School of Business, will be the new president of the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois for 2013-14.

 Molly Burke, who is also a professor of management, will be the interim dean of the Brennan School of Business, taking on a temporary position in place of Johnson in early June of this year.

 “For the past five years, Arvid Johnson has led the Brennan School of Business with a total commitment to strengthening and enhancing our educational quality,” Burke said. “We will miss him as he assumes his new role at St. Francis University, but we will always be grateful for his contributions”

 Though this will be his last semester at Dominican, Johnson has had a profound impact on faculty and staff members, as a dean and on students as a professor of management.

Johnson has worked passionately with students at both the undergraduate and graduate level for seven years.

 Johnson said he feels confident in knowing that he will continue to see Dominican students strive towards personal aspirations, as well as strive at their aspirations for the multitudes.

 “What makes Dominican very special is that I interacted directly with the students,” Johnson said. “As I keep in touch with students, I get to see the great things that they accomplish. And I like to think I played a small part in it.”

 As dean of the Brennan School of Business since 2008, Johnson has also worked diligently alongside staff and faculty members in one of their biggest challenges, getting BSB’s present accreditation re-affirmed from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. BSB is now preparing for their next accreditation: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. They will host a site visit for AACSB accreditation in March 2014.

 “I think that the faculty is wonderful,” Johnson said. “Working with them and having a real team is probably my greatest accomplishment… I take very little credit for it; it’s just bringing the right people together. They’ve done a tremendous job.”  

 Though Johnson stated that he will always have several favorite memories from his journey at Dominican, perhaps his most vivid was when he attended his second undergraduate commencement. It was then that Johnson realized the appreciation and friendship from his former students that he’d impacted.

 “Seeing the students not just walk across the stage, but afterwards when we all come pouring out of the Lund…my students would grab me and say ‘Professor Johnson! I want you to meet my parents,’” Johnson said. “That’s still a memory that I share with faculty and potential hires because, to me, that is Dominican.”

 Johnson wasn’t alone in his appreciation towards his fellow staff members and students, Ph.D. and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Cheryl Johnson-Odim, spoke on behalf of the staff team on Johnson’s transition to St. Francis.

 “He’s a wonderful person and a great worker. From all of us, we’re so happy for him because he can follow his passion, but at the same time we’re sad,” Johnson-Odim said.

 Johnson stated that Dominican and St. Francis have many similarities, making the transition to St. Francis easier, along with The St. Francis community being very much driven by its mission. Just as Dominican has an ethos, “the Franciscan Catholic character in charisma of respect, integrity, service and compassion is at the heart of St. Francis,” Johnson stated.

 As far as his vision for the University of St. Francis goes, Johnson is focused on getting to know the community first. His main objective is to help the staff, faculty and students at St. Francis discern, along with him, what their vision may be. For a president who has never been at a particular school for a period of time to have a vision when they don’t know the school, is disingenuous, Johnson mentioned.

 But, to the Dominican community whose very mission and statement Johnson eternalizes, “Dominican will always be a part of me, and I hope that I will always be a part of Dominican,” Johnson said. “I’ve been here for 12 years and I absolutely love the people here. I plan to stay connected as the years go by.”