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The Power of Stewardship

Message from the President

David Johnson

David Johnson

The university suffered a great loss on February 23, 2009, with the passing of Trustee David Johnson ’53. On April 30, the university community had the opportunity to reflect on his amazing legacy of stewardship and leadership.

Mr. Johnson served on the Council of Trustees for three decades. He was an enthusiastic and loyal cheerleader for IUP. And, by example, he has taught many how to lead, serve, and live. Most recently, IUP established a new center for Civic Engagement and Student Leadership. We want students to appreciate the notion that great leaders most often are great stewards.

Mr. Johnson never forgot his legacy as a “hometown boy” or as an IUP graduate with deep roots. His mother was Sally Bevan Johnson, a 1921 graduate of IUP (then called Indiana Normal School).

Mrs. Johnson set the example for her son’s service as trustee, as she served in that role from 1954 to 1956. She also was president of the school’s alumni association, led committees that preserved historic John Sutton Hall and Breezedale on campus, and, in 1958, received a Distinguished Alumni Citation for her service. It is most fitting that Sally B. Johnson Hall, named in her honor, houses the university’s Safety Sciences Department, a place that owes its origin to Mr. Johnson’s vision and foresight.

As vice president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, Mr. Johnson recognized both a growing need for safety sciences-trained professionals and the opportunity for IUP to fill that career niche. He was instrumental in successfully securing a $100,000 grant to help start the safety sciences program at IUP in 1972. The department has grown and advanced from the foundation of courses that he helped to develop.

Today, IUP’s Safety Sciences Department is one of only twelve accredited undergraduate programs of its kind in the nation. The department enrolls two hundred undergraduate and seventy-five graduate students and will shortly launch a doctoral program. The department boasts a 94 percent job placement rate for new graduates.

Mr. Johnson met his wife, Audrey Vogan Johnson, a 1952 Home Economics graduate, at IUP. They are the parents of a son, Ward Johnson (a Safety Sciences graduate), and his wife, Elaine, and a daughter, Lee, and her husband, Donald Faulconbridge. They are also the grandparents of four.

In 2000, Mr. Johnson was honored with the State System of Higher Education’s Eberly Award for Philanthropy and Volunteerism. This award followed the 1987 presentation of the IUP Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition to his service to IUP, Mr. Johnson was active in both the Indiana and Philadelphia area communities.

Without question, David Johnson created an outstanding legacy as a father, a husband, a businessman, and a philanthropist who gave his very best to those those lives he touched. Mr. Johnson’s life reminds me of a famous quote by Sir Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but make a life by what we give.” Mr. Johnson’s life was truly rich in service to others.

Isn’t that what life is really about? Love, success, and stewardship were values that David Johnson lived and breathed. What a terrific role model for our students, and what a marvelous example of “servant leadership” for us all.