Tribute to Dr. Daniel Johnson, University of Toledo President Emeritus
Dr. Daniel M. Johnson, who was president of The University of Toledo from 2001 to 2006, died July 1. He was 80.
Johnson, who was known for his work promoting a student-centered culture and fostering community engagement during his tenure as the University’s 15th president, served in higher education leadership positions for more than 40 years throughout his career. He developed collaborations and partnerships among public universities, government entities, industrial corporations and international organizations.
He was instrumental in the UToledo and MUO merger that set the University apart as one of just 27 comprehensive public universities in the country with its breadth and depth of academic programs.
During his tenure up to the merger, Johnson led the campus through refining its mission, developing and implementing a strategic plan, completing a master plan for campus, and initiating a $100 million capital campaign. He spearheaded presidential initiatives to advance UToledo’s mission as a metropolitan university, including a Commission on Diversity, Council on Outreach and Engagement, and Commission on the River.
“President Johnson was instrumental in shaping the UToledo we know today and for setting this University on our current path of positive momentum that has benefited countless students, graduates and members of our greater community,” said Al Baker, chair of the UToledo Board of Trustees, who also previously served as a member of the MUO Board of Trustees during the merger process. “On behalf of the trustees and our entire University community, we thank Dr. Johnson for his service and express our sincere condolences to his loved ones.”
In 2008, he was invited to serve as provost and chief operating officer of Zayed University in United Arab Emirates. He returned to UToledo in 2011 as director of global initiatives and worked to establish partnerships in Lebanon, South Africa, China, India and other nations until 2013.
Prior to coming to Toledo, Johnson was provost of the University of Alaska Anchorage. His career also included administrative positions at University of North Texas in Denton, Texas; Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond; Sangamon State University in Springfield, Ill.; and Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., as well as additional faculty positions at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan., and Christian College in Columbia, Mo.
He is the author of numerous books, chapters, study reports and papers, including “Leading Economic Development: A Toolbox for Public Officials and Civic Leaders” published by University of Toledo Press in 2015.
In his final letter to the campus community upon becoming president emeritus, Johnson described UToledo as “poised for greatness” and wrote that it was time to aim higher to produce more graduates and more research funding and be a powerful force for economic development.
“At historic times like this we are often tempted to look back to see how far we have come, to reminisce about the good things that have happened, and to congratulate ourselves on our progress,” Johnson wrote. “I would urge us not to yield to this temptation but rather spend our limited and valuable time looking ahead, setting high goals and charting a strategic course that will enable us to achieve these goals and our larger mission.”
Johnson is survived by his wife, Elaine Johnson, and two sons, Darin and Brent Johnson, and four grandchildren.