Robert E. Johnson, President, Western New England University
Dr. Robert E. Johnson is President of Western New England University. Previously, he was chancellor of UMass Dartmouth, a Tier 1 national research university providing a private college educational experience and public university value. Prior to his 2017 appointment at UMass Dartmouth, he was president of Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts for seven years, leading the college’s evolution into an adaptive, nimble, and entrepreneurial institution that is a model for colleges and universities across the United States. His unyielding belief in higher education as a public good has led him to dedicate his life to providing transformational educational opportunities.
A thought leader and commentator on issues related to the future of work and education, Dr. Johnson believes students, through higher education, must develop divergent thinking skills, social and emotional intelligence, empathy, and an entrepreneurial outlook. These uniquely human capacities cannot be replicated by technology are the hallmarks of success in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous future.
Dr. Johnson’s 30-year leadership career spans non-profit colleges and universities in the Northeast and Midwest, spanning public, private, urban, rural, small and large institutions, with enrollments from 2,000 to more than 25,000 students. This experience includes public research universities, one of the nation’s largest single-campus community colleges, a large Catholic university, a historically Black university, and a turn-around and transformation of a small private college. His career reflects several firsts—as not only an African-American leader but also the youngest person holding major senior administrative roles.
Dr. Johnson is a proponent of innovation and entrepreneurship, hallmarks of his leadership include elevated institutional stature; improved institutional profile and competitive market position; national recognition; enrollment growth and resource development success; and fast-tracked facilities and infrastructure upgrades.