SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dr. Kathy Johnson, one of the highest-ranking academic officials at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, says the qualities and experience that the Marshall University community is looking for in its next president is what she holds.
Johnson, one of five finalists to replace outgoing Marshall President Jerome Gilbert next year, met with Marshall officials at the South Charleston campus on Wednesday morning before heading to Huntington in the afternoon. She’s the third candidate to visit the campuses this week.
Johnson serves as executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), a core campus of Indiana University and the state’s urban research and academic health sciences campus.
She told MetroNews that her understanding of enrollment management strategy, understanding of how to improve an institution’s climate to better recruit students and understanding of strategic international partnerships could set her apart of other candidates.
“I work very closely with deans, with associate vice-chancellors and other academic leaders in trying to position our programs that students can be successful,” Johnson said.
“I am also responsible for our research arm. Making sure we are doing everything in our power to increase faculty’s ability to get external grant funding and make discoveries that will translate into patents.”
Johnson added she feels comfortable with research being a strength of hers in leading a higher education institution and making sure there is a translation from research into practice.
Focusing on Marshall, Johnson said increasing the freshman retention rate to above 80% would be a priority of hers. She also said increasing brand awareness for prospective students and developing strategies to correct certain perceptions would be an issue to tackle.
Johnson said getting out into the community is the first step to achieve those goals.
“Talking to constituents, listening to what the needs in the community are, thinking about how to connect together opportunities that may exist in South Charleston or other regional campuses with needs that the state has,” she said.
Johnson is a professor of psychology and has previously served as dean of University College and associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education, where she led the creation of a Division of Undergraduate Education as well as a number of initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of the undergraduate experience while also improving on-time graduation rates, Marshall’s presidential search website stated.
She is trained as a cognitive developmental psychologist and has published extensively in scientific journals in areas related to expertise acquisition and conceptual development.
Johnson earned her doctorate in psychology (cognition and development) at Emory University and her M.S. and B.S. in psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
“I am a really optimistic and transparent leader, but I am also very grounded and centered. I think I could easily dedicate myself fully to being a servant for this university,” she said.
Upcoming candidate visits include:
– Bernard Arulanandam, Oct.14: 10 to 11 a.m. at the South Charleston campus, 5 to 6 p.m. at the Huntington campus.
– Bret Danilowicz, Oct. 18: 10 to 11 a.m. at the South Charleston campus, 5 to 6 p.m. at the Huntington campus.
Brad Smith, former Intuit CEO, and Dr. Robyn Hannigan, the provost at Clarkson University have already visited the campus communities.
The Board of Governors is expected to make its final selection at its regularly scheduled Oct. 28 meeting.