Meet The Candidates: Kimberly Johnston

Rachel Wright, News Editor

     The fourth and final university presidential candidate Kimberly Johnston visited Bloomsburg and discussed her experience and her goals. Johnston received her Bachelors and Masters in Nursing from Penn State and then her Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Widener University. In her professional life, Johnston taught at Penn State University and Albright College before teaching in fellow PA state school Kutztown for 19 years. In her time there she served as a Chairperson of the Nursing Department, Women’s Studies Center and the University Curriculum Committee. In addition to serving as chairperson for those programs she was a representative on a state wide APSCUF ad hoc committee on academic issues.

     In 2006 she was appointed Dean of Nursing at Methodist College and shortly after took over as president. “During her tenure, Dr. Johnston led the school through two strategic plans which focused on excellence and growth and increased enrollment by seven fold. She developed and expanded academic programs, hired more faculty and established an inclusivity program,” said search committee chairperson Mary Janes Bowes.

     “Dr. Johnston has created a positive and supportive student centered learning environment through her collaborative leadership style. She brought her vision for her institution into reality and is committed to continued success and civic engagement, community service and meeting the needs of a diverse student body.”

     When it came to the open forum, there were questions about the arts, faculty research and various other topics. “Bloomsburg reminds me a lot of Clearfield (where Johnston is from), the people are very similar, the geography with the mountains are similar…It was very weird, I had been in Illinois for 11 years, the Midwest is very different than the East Coast. I walked into the room [with the search committee] and I just felt this very good calm feeling that I was home. I don’t know if it’s the culture or the people of Bloomsburg but since I’ve been here I have felt that … I really do feel that I am back home.”

     When asked about minorities and the macro and micro aggressions on campus and in town and how she would handle that, Johnston said in her own experience at the college she is currently at, “It’s a tall order, I will admit. First and foremost you have to understand your culture. To do that you have to look internally … do we or don’t we have a culture of inclusivity? If we don’t, what do we need to do to move there? Step two is bringing in an expert on cultural assessment and engagement, we did that … She was able to tell us certain macro and micro aggressions that we didn’t even see… once you have the data the big question is what are you going to do? How do you change something that is so inherent in individual’s behavior and belief systems?”

     Johnston is a big believer in bringing in experts to help because “If something is a problem and it’s in your face every day, you don’t have the objectivity to deal with it.”