Long time administrator departs this month to pursue new health care career
By Ethan Nichols and Chloe Salveson, World News Editor and Print Managing Editor
Dr. Dave Johnson’s last day as Associate Provost and Chief Student Affairs Officer is Sept. 9, and just two weeks later, he will begin a new chapter of his career as Vice President of Mission at St. Elizabeth Health.
First joining Xavier in 2007, Johnson was enamored with Xavier’s Jesuit tradition and mission.
“After grad school, I only applied to one job, and it was the position of Director of Peace and Justice Programs at Xavier. It was that position or bust,” Johnson recalled.
In 2010, Johnson became the Executive Director of the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice, and he assumed his current role in 2012.
“I believe wholeheartedly in (Xavier’s) mission. We want to launch students out into the world to make this place a little bit of a better place,” he said.
Johnson currently oversees 58 staff members and over 170 student workers, as well as over $17 million in revenue and 1.4 million square feet of facilities.
“I really believe in this idea that a university is a place where on any given day, any given person can be a professor or a student, a mentor or a mentee. I have learned so much from students over the years,” Johnson reminisced.
“The students have been catalysts of some of the most important areas of growth for the university. That’s been really cool to see — that interactive relationship between the students and the institution, and how we’re all, I think, invited to be transformed by this place,” he continued.
Johnson’s passion for students has allowed him to play an architectural role at Xavier. Reflecting on his time at Xavier, he hopes he has been able to help shape students’ lives during their time on campus.
Johnson facilitated the process of bringing together peace and justice programs along with campus ministry in order to create the Center for Faith and Justice (CFJ). The CFJ is only one of Johnson’s favorite parts of Xavier.
“I love to begin the school year. I love welcoming student leaders back and welcoming in the first year class. It’s a time of year that’s full of possibility and promise, and it’s just really exciting,” Johnson noted.
“And then, I love the end of the year because we get to look over our shoulders and see everything that students, faculty and staff accomplished,” he added.
Johnson mentioned that his fondest speech to give is to the student leaders before the first-years arrive.
“If you could harness the energy of those 300+ student leaders in that room, anything would be possible. It is just electric. It’s the kickoff for the academic year, and for me, it’s like Christmas,” Johnson noted.
Despite his love for Xavier, Johnson expressed that he feels ready for his next chapter.
“It might be time for seeking new ways to make contributions, and I feel like my next step is another Ignatian adventure where I’m going to go and try to make contributions to the common good,” Johnson explained.
“I’m gonna miss the students. I’m gonna miss the energy — their energy,” Johnson said.
“I know this sounds cheesy, but when you look at students, I really do believe you can see that twinkle in their eye. And, for me, that represents possibility,” he concluded.