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Concordia University Chicago President Announces Retirement in August 2013



Concordia University Chicago president Dr. John F. Johnson has announced that he will step down from the presidency on August 16, 2013.

“It has been my great privilege to lead Concordia-Chicago,” Johnson said. “I have been personally blessed to serve at this University during an exceptional period of growth and change. The institution stands in a strong position to continue its mission of equipping students to serve and lead with integrity, creativity, competence, and compassion in a diverse, interconnected and increasingly urbanized church and world.”

In an open letter to the University, he also praised the “outstanding, dedicated, and talented faculty and staff members.” The announcement coincides with the ten year commitment Johnson made to the University’s Board of Regents at the beginning of his tenure.

As president, Johnson’s strategic priorities included increasing enrollment, ensuring the financial health of the university, establishing long term growth strategies for academic programs and continued service to the community and Church. He is recognized for strengthening Concordia’s presence globally, nationally, regionally and locally as a destination institution for post-secondary learning.

Under his leadership, the University was named by the Chronicle of Higher Education as the nation’s second fastest growing campus (from 2004-2009) among nonprofit master’s degree granting institutions. For the past three years, enrollment has exceeded 5,000 students reaching an all-time record of 5,454 in Fall 2012.

Much of the enrollment growth was due to Johnson’s establishment of two new colleges. The College of Graduate and Innovative Programs, established in 2006, offers academic programs in traditional, accelerated and recently introduced online learning formats. The College of Business, which Johnson established in 2007, draws students to unique, blended business programs, including MBA degrees with various concentrations. These innovative approaches, along with the expansion of the University’s doctoral programs to include PhD programs, have contributed to a graduate enrollment of nearly 4,000 students.

Under his guidance, fund-raising efforts resulted in newly remodeled music practice rooms for undergraduates in 2012. The Fred and Jane Wittlinger Endowed Chair for Music Performance was established this March and is the first endowed chair in the University’s history. As a result of these endeavors, Concordia-Chicago will continue to provide an education and facilities that match the excellence of the gifted students who wish to serve through their music.

Johnson’s interest in expanding the University’s global presence resulted in the establishment of the Center for Global Outreach, which focusses on enrollment of international students, additional study abroad opportunities and international research.

Multiple strategic partnerships with other higher education institutions, especially those in the healthcare field, now provide Concordia-Chicago students with various opportunities to earn degrees in nursing and related health careers.

He has been instrumental in seeking involvement of community and business leaders, having initiated the Community Awards for Leadership and Learning, which annually honors individual and corporate commitment to education, community service and philanthropy.

As President of Lutheran Educational Colleges of North America (LECNA), Johnson is recognized for contributions to field of higher education, and Lutheran higher education in particular. Underscoring the University’s commitment to service learning, Johnson leads by example. Earlier this year, he joined a team of fellow Lutheran college and university presidents to fund the construction of a water well in Ethiopia.

Johnson became the tenth president of Concordia University Chicago in November, 2004. His higher education career of nearly 36 years includes 14 years as president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO; president of Concordia College Saint Paul; and academic dean at Concordia Seminary. He has also faithfully served Lutheran parishes in Fort Worth, TX and Ellisville, MO.

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