Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., took office as the 10th president of Becker College in 2010 and has evolved Becker into an adaptive, nimble, and entrepreneurial institution that is a model for small private colleges in the United States. He believes higher education is a public good, and has dedicated his more-than-25-year career to transforming the lives of young people. He challenges students to build upon the three pillars of global citizenship—academic excellence, social responsibility, and creative expression—to embrace the opportunities inherent in a complex and hyper-connected world. It is his conviction that college graduates must be prepared to adapt and succeed in a dynamic future—one where jobs as we know them may no longer exist, career mobility is the norm, and individuals are responsible for their brand and their business model, and must continuously build their [future] value. This imperative leads Becker College in preparing students with an “Agile Mindset,” a set of uniquely human skills that merge learning agility with a value-creation orientation. Graduates are prepared not only for their career trajectories, but also to embrace the myriad challenges and opportunities the future presents.
Becker College traces its history to 1784, making it among the nation’s oldest educational institutions, with a founding charter signed by American Revolutionaries John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Today, Becker enrolls more than 2,100 students at two campuses in Central Massachusetts. Under Dr. Johnson’s leadership, the College has been named one of the “best institutions for undergraduate education” by The Princeton Review for four consecutive years. The College’s game design program, named the 5th best undergraduate program in the world by The Princeton Review, has been top-ranked for seven consecutive years—the only institution on the East Coast and one of four worldwide to maintain this longstanding distinction.
In 2011, Becker was designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as home to the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), a first-in-the-nation center that connects the state’s digital games industry, government, and academic resources to promote job growth and entrepreneurship. Also that year, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick appointed Dr. Johnson to the board of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a state agency that promotes technology sector growth through industry, academia, and state government partnerships. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker described Becker as: “an example of growth in the ‘creative economy’ . . . one of the country’s leading . . . educational institutions for computer gaming.” (Worcester Business Journal, April 10, 2015.)
In 2014, via participation in the American Council on Education’s Internationalization Laboratory, the College developed a global engagement strategy to establish global citizenship as a key attribute of a Becker education. In 2015, the College was designated as the first Yunus Social Business Centre in the U.S. The Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College provides opportunities for individuals to solve world problems by creating self-sustaining business solutions that have social impact. In 2016, Becker College became the first college or university in the country to mandate a 100 percent impact strategy across its entire endowment, with a HIP (Human Impact + Profits) rating of greater than 50 percent on a scale of 0-100.
Dr. Johnson was appointed to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education in 2015. He is a member of the Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan policy organization of chief executives, university presidents, and labor leaders, and serves on the boards of a number of state and local organizations. As a speaker, he has addressed organizations across the country on topics including leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship, among others.
A native of Detroit, Mich., Dr. Johnson holds a doctorate in higher education administration from Touro University International, formerly a division of Touro College, New York; a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Cincinnati; and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Morehouse College. Prior to becoming Becker College’s president, Dr. Johnson served as senior vice president of Sinclair Community College, in Dayton, Ohio; vice president of enrollment management at the University of Dayton; vice provost at Oakland University, Rochester, Mich.; and executive director of enrollment management at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. He is married to Michelle Jones-Johnson. They have two children, Jasmine and Alex.