As the first minority president in the institution’s 83-year history, Dr. Brian L. Johnson comes to Warner Pacific University with a lifetime of preparation. Johnson is an accomplished professor, scholar, speaker and administrator. Notably, he has published seven academic and scholarly books–including two books on William Edward Burghardt Du Bois and one institutional history of his alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University, a historically black university.
Johnson received his Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina, specializing in 17th-19th Century American Literature, and his M.A. in English from The University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before taking the helm at WPU, Johnson was the Vice President/Senior Campus Administrator at Mercy College in Manhattan, NY. From 2014-2017, he served as the President and CEO at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL. He also served as Interim Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness and Assistant Provost/Assistant Vice President for Academics at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN.
Dr. Johnson is also a sought-after speaker who shares a powerful and compelling narrative based upon an August 31, 1995, biographical article, the Raleigh News and Observer titled, “A Young Man Apart, A World Apart,” and becoming an accomplished professor, scholar and academic administrator before the age of 40. Dr. Johnson has been selected to speak at several events included. Among these was his selection as Clemson University’s 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr., events; Auburn University’s 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr., events; Westmont College Provost Lecture Series; University of Toledo 2016 Black History Month events; Gordon College’s Feb. 2016 Faith Seeking Understanding Lecture Series; Mercy College 2016 Commencement, and the Doctoral Hooding speaker at the University of South Carolina-Columbia 2014 Winter Ceremony. Mercy College awarded Dr. Johnson his first honorary doctorate in 2016.
Among several academic and administrative awards, he has received a 2012-2013 American Council on Education (A.C.E.) Fellowship (Presidential Aspirant); a 2012-2013 American Association of State College and University (A.A.S.C.U.) Millennium Leadership Initiative Fellowship (Presidential Aspirant); a (2011-2012) (CCCU) Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities rising senior administrative Fellowship; a (2011-2012) Tennessee Board of Regents Maxine Smith rising senior administrator Fellowship at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; a 2007 Woodrow Wilson/Career Enhancement Sabbatical Fellowship; a 2006-2007 appointment as the Civic Engagement Scholar within the J. McDonald Williams Institute of Dallas, Texas; a 2005-2007 Lilly Foundation/Center for Christian Studies Fellowship (Gordon College, Wenham, MA); a 2004-2005 non-resident fellowship within the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Studies (Harvard University), and a 2003-Present Andrew W. Mellon-Benjamin Mays Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Dr. Johnson is married to his college sweetheart of 20 years, Shemeka Barnes Johnson. They have two sons, Brian Asa and Nathan Morgan Qodesh.