BOSTON – Robert E. Johnson, Becker College president, on Tuesday was named chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth by a unanimous vote of the UMass Board of Trustees.
Johnson, president of Becker College in Worcester since 2010, was recommended for the UMass Dartmouth chancellorship by UMass President Martin Meehan, according to a news release from UMass.
“Robert Johnson is an accomplished, visionary leader with an entrepreneurial spirit and a proven commitment to student success,” Meehan said in a statement. “He has developed innovative strategies that have revitalized institutions and transformed lives, and I am confident he will help UMass Dartmouth reach new levels of excellence.”
While at Becker College, Johnson was credited with increasing enrollment to record levels, improving student success and elevating the college’s reputation.
Johnson said he is “humbled and honored” to be named chancellor of UMass Dartmouth, and is looking forward to his new position. The first African-American to lead UMass Dartmouth, Johnson also is a member of the state Board of Higher Education, vice chairman of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Board and chair of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.
A native of Detroit, Johnson has a doctorate in higher education administration from Touro University International, a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Morehouse College. He also served as senior vice president of Sinclair Community College, vice president of enrollment management at the University of Dayton, vice provost at Oakland University and executive director of enrollment management at Central State University, prior to his role at Becker.
“We aimed high and attracted some excellent candidates, but Robert Johnson clearly stood out from the pack,” Trustee R. Norman Peters, chair of the UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Search Committee, said in prepared remarks. “We were impressed by his obvious passion for higher education, his consistent record of achievement and his ability to accomplish key objectives – from growing revenues to increasing graduation rates – all while keeping his pulse on the day-to-day student experience. We believe he will be a boon for UMass Dartmouth and the entire SouthCoast region.”
Three finalists for the position were announced last month. The university hired Boston-based executive recruitment firm Isaacson, Miller to assist with the search. The firm interviewed 40 candidates, and presented their credentials to the search committee, which then chose to interview 12, before narrowing the finalists to three: Johnson; James P. Lentini, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Oakland University in Michigan; and Philip K. Way, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.
Peyton Randolph Helm has been serving as interim chancellor since March 2016.