Introducing Albion’s 17th President: Dr. Mathew Johnson

New York native Dr. Mathew Johnson was named Albion College’s 17th President on Thursday morning. Johnson will inherit more than an office in Ferguson, but the privilege to meet and build relationships with Albion’s students, faculty, staff, and community (Photo Courtesy of Charles Carlson).

Following former Albion College President Mauri Ditzler’s retirement announcement, the college began a four-month-long search to find Ditzler’s successor. After sorting through nearly 100 candidates, the Board of Trustees selected Dr. Mathew Johnson as the college’s 17th president.

Johnson has spent the past 5 years at Brown University as Associate Dean of the College for Engaged Scholarship and Senior Fellow and Executive Director of the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service. Johnson’s career, however, didn’t start there. Prior to that, Johnson worked as a faculty member and a coach.

“I have an affinity for small schools and how they affect students’ lives,” said Johnson.

Johnson said that he and his partner, Dr. Shannon O’Neill, will be moving to Albion in July depending on what the situation is with COVID-19.

Getting to Know Mathew Johnson

Albion Pleiad: What attracted you to Albion?

Mathew Johnson: A few things attracted me to the college. The college town feel and the relationship between the college and the town was very interesting to me. I was also drawn to the recent diversity and equity movement on campus. My kids began their sophomore year, and my partner and I are looking for new students and a new community to be a part of. 

AP: What are your goals coming into Albion?

MJ: My first set of goals is to get to know the community, and to do a lot of listening, and learn what challenges there are to face. I want to get to know students, the faculty, staff and the community.

There has been a call from faculty to look into the curriculum. I want to work with the faculty to think about what the future of liberal arts educations may look like. But lastly, I want to work with a variety of stakeholders to make sure we are attaining the sustainability of the college.

AP: What inspires you?

MJ: The thing that inspires me the most is the intellectual curiosity that students have. How they question about the future, about politics, the environment. The same intellectual curiosity in faculty is exciting to me as well. Also, the level of political engagement in your generation, your generation is much more engaged than those previously and that inspires and excites me as well.

AP: What are your top priorities for returning Albion to normalcy or even a new normal?

MJ: What the fall is going to look like, whether it will be online or truant or something else, There are so many elements that are out of our control. We will need to focus on the things we can control and can plan for. There are so many different scenarios. I want to do everything in our power to bring students back, to make sure campus is safe and that we are complementing what the community is doing. We might have to think about a late start or start a bit earlier in August and ending earlier while expecting a comeback of the disease during the fall.

AP: Is there anything you would like to say to the Albion College student body?

MP: I can’t wait to meet you and dine with you, I can’t wait to invite you to my house and have a fire in the backyard. I want to get to know you and your dreams and your aspirations.

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