PORTLAND — Effective Aug. 1, Warner Pacific University has a new president — the eighth in the institution’s 83-year history.
Brian Johnson comes to Warner Pacific from New York, where since 2018 he has been vice president at Mercy College and administrator for its Manhattan campus.
Johnson replaces Andrea Cook, who served as president for 12 years of the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.)- affiliated university. Her presidency has been marked by significant changes in outreach and inclusion, increasing the number of diverse students and earning the university a designation as a Hispanic-serving institution.
Johnson has held teaching and administrative appointments at a variety of institutions.
“I want to be somewhere where I can bring to bear my faith commitments, my scholarly commitments, my ethnicity, and frankly, all the things that prepared me for this moment I see evidenced and embodied in Warner Pacific as a Christ-centered, urban, minority-serving and Hispanic-serving institution situated in a metropolitan environment,” he said. “It fits everything I enjoy.”
Johnson is the first African-American to serve as Warner Pacific’s president. Johnson also was president and CEO of the venerable Tuskegee (Ala.) University from 2014 to 2017. He also served as interim vice president for strategic planning and institutional effectiveness and assistant provost/assistant vice president for academic affairs at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn.
Johnson earned his doctorate in English in 2003 from the University of South Carolina. He earned his master’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree in English from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C.. In 2012-13, he was an American Council of Education Fellow at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Johnson received an honorary doctorate from Mercy College in 2016. His wife, Shemeka, is a senior vice president at Bank of America. The Johnsons have two sons.