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Published: Friday, 9/19/2008

UT s Johnson set to lead university in Middle East


The past president of the University of Toledo has been selected to lead a university in the Middle East.

Dan Johnson, who served as president of UT from 2001 to 2006, will be the new provost, chief operating officer, and chief academic officer of Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. It s the equivalent of a university president in America.

It just kind of knocked my socks off, Mr. Johnson said of the university, which was established by the federal government in 1998. Their aspirations and investment in higher education is substantial, and they want to bring an American higher education system into this university.

Zayed University is an English-speaking institution with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Mr. Johnson, 68, will move there next month and said he and his wife, Elaine, are excited about the opportunity.

It s a new country that is working very hard to modernize and bring higher education to the region, he said.

Sulaiman Al Jassim, vice president of Zayed University, said in a statement that Mr. Johnson was the best candidate for the position. His significant leadership experience will be a great asset in facilitating and maintaining a productive, professional environment that will maximize the learning opportunities for students, he said.

Mr. Johnson will oversee the university s operations, academic programs, campuses, deans, and faculty.

He was first approached about the opportunity in July, had several meetings in Detroit, and spent a week at the university before being selected.

Mr. Johnson s accomplishments at UT include initiating the merger of UT and the former Medical University of Ohio, launching the $100 million capital campaign that recently surpassed its goal, and laying the foundation for the UT Science and Technology Corridor.

He is a distinguished university professor of public policy and economic development at the university.

Mr. Johnson said it was a difficult decision to leave Toledo.

I really feel proud to have been a part of the University of Toledo, he said. It s been a tremendous experience and honor.

He s most proud of the successful merger between the university and the medical school, which has created a new platform for the University of Toledo, Mr. Johnson said.

Prior to his UT career, Mr. Johnson was provost of the University of Alaska Anchorage and dean of the school of community service at the University of North Texas.

He has bachelor s and master s degrees in sociology from Texas Christian University and a PhD in sociology and demography from the University of Missouri.

UT President Lloyd Jacobs said Mr. Johnson is a global thinker and true visionary who will be missed in Toledo, but that it is a great opportunity for him to have an influence in a rapidly growing part of the world and education system.

He s been a statesmen, a partner, a tremendous contributor, a person who always puts others ahead of himself, and I will miss him a lot, Dr. Jacobs said. I have no doubt he will make a great contribution to humanity where he is going.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:mgilbert@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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