Fairmont State University has named Ben E. Johnson as Interim Vice President for Enrollment Services. He will begin his duties on Monday, March 15.
"I am confident that Ben Johnson will be a great addition to Fairmont State University's administrative team as the leader of our enrollment and recruitment efforts. I worked with Ben when we were both presidents in the Nebraska state college system and saw firsthand how he helped Peru State College transition from facing major challenges to becoming a vibrant and thriving college," said Dr. Tom Krepel, FSU President.
With more than 40 years of experience in higher education, Johnson has a background in helping young adults not only survive, but excel, in a college environment. From 1999 to 2008, he served as President of Peru State College in Peru, Neb. Johnson implemented ways to attract more students, keep them and help them to excel academically. During his presidency, Peru's enrollment doubled.
"The similarities between Peru State College and Fairmont State University are really remarkable. Both have a high percentage of first-generation college students, and nearly all students are in need of financial aid, which puts more pressure on their success. Many students are taking a full load of classes while they are working. At Peru, we looked for ways to help working adults accomplish their educational goals," Johnson said.
"My role at Peru State College gave me the chance to put into action the idea of building a student support center that I believed every single college needed and none of them had. We called it the Academic Resource Center (ARC). I also was able to put into practice my theories on helping students survive and thrive. It all turned out better than I thought. I will not be trying to duplicate exactly what we did at Peru State College, but I hope to see similar results for Fairmont State University. I am sure we can count on students, faculty and staff to be very excited and involved in student success programs."
Peru State College's ARC concept involved renovating a large building in the center of campus and in that building locating all of the services students would and could use if they were available and didn't have to go out of their way to find them.
"It was an amazing experience for the students. The ARC became both an academic and social meeting place for students. We didn't really anticipate how popular it would be. When we did surveys with our graduates, most of them mentioned the ARC was the one thing that led to their success and happiness at Peru. They said the ARC was what kept them in school and helped them to graduate," Johnson said.
A similar "one-stop shop" being called the Student Access and Support Center is being planned in the Turley Center on the shared FSU and Pierpont Community & Technical College campus. Johnson said he would expect the center to become as popular as the one at Peru State College.
"Fairmont State University is very lucky to have a president with vision like Tom Krepel. He understands very much that if you are going to help students, it takes more than nice facilities and supportive faculty; it takes extra services to meet the needs of students facing challenges," Johnson said.
He said he also looks forward to working with Honors students to assist them in maintaining a high level of achievement.
Most recently, Johnson served as an Online Professor/Mentor in Critical Thinking at Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah. From 2008-2009, he was The Nebraska State College System Online Professor of Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies at Peru State College in Peru, Neb.
His experience also includes multiple leadership and teaching roles at other higher education institutions. Johnson was Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Thomas University, Thomasville, Ga.; Dean of Graduate Programs and Research, Director of Education, at Montana State University-Northern, Havre, Mont.; Adjunct Professor and Teaching Associate, Education Courses and Language Arts Methods, at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.; an English, Reading and Developmental Studies Instructor at Manatee Community College in Bradenton, Fla., and at Lake-Sumter Community College at Leesburg, Fla.; Chair of the Department of English at Trinity College, Deerfield, Ill.; and Assistant Professor and Director of Student Retention at Tyndale College in Detroit, Mich. He as has been Executive Director of the Education Foundation in Sarasota, Fla., and also a self-employed education consultant in Sarasota, Fla.
Johnson earned a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction: Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla., in 1993; an M.A. in English and an M.A.ED. in History and Social Sciences from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich.; and a B.R.E. in Religious Literature and Humanities from William Tyndale College in Detroit, Mich. He has significant professional training from the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education, Harvard Seminar for Presidents, AASCU Presidents' Academy, AASCU Summer Council of Presidents: Presidential Leadership and The Snowmass Institute: Strategic Management for College Presidents. He has published 19 books and more than 60 articles in a variety of publications.
During his career, Johnson has received several awards and honors including the Nebraska Distinguished Leadership Award in 2007 and the Nebraska Community Builders Award in 2005. He currently resides in Ellenton, Fla.