President Johnson Featured in Business Journal

Wisconsin Lutheran College President Daniel W. Johnson was featured in the Business Journal on May 29, 2009. Read the text of the interview below, or download the PDF. 

President Dan Johnson web imageDaniel Johnson was inaugurated last month as the third full-time president of Wisconsin Lutheran College in Wauwatosa, where he had been serving in the president's office since June 2008. Prior to his appointment, Johnson spent nine years as principal and head administrator of Arizona Lutheran Academy in Phoenix.

He has a bachelor's degree from Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn.; a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from National-Louis University in Chicago; and a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Johnson recently answered questions via e-mail from Business Journal education reporter Rich Rovito.

What are your main plans and goals for Wisconsin Lutheran College?

"We have successfully established excellent undergraduate programs and campus facilities. Our focus is producing well-prepared Christian leaders, whether they have majored in pre-med or biology, art or communication, teacher education, business, or psychology. We’re setting the standard in Christian leadership, and that will remain a top goal of mine.

"We also are now aggressively positioning ourselves for the future by creating a School for Adult and Graduate Studies that will offer master's degrees and degree-completion programs for working adults. We're adding majors — six more, just last month — including Mandarin, or China Studies. We will grow our enrollment by focusing on traditional students as always, but also on working adults living in the greater Milwaukee area and on international students. In fact, I just returned from China, and while there signed an agreement with a university that will send us students while offering study-abroad opportunities for our students and faculty."

What effect has the recession had on the college, and have you had to increase financial aid for students from families affected by the recession?

"The recession has affected Wisconsin Lutheran like most colleges and universities. Major foundations and donors have felt the impact of our struggling economy just as everyone else has. In February, we decided to make some strategic budget cuts, even reducing some personnel, after a thorough analysis of all aspects of our budget. Though that process was painful, we needed to financially position ourselves for the future.

"While cutting in some areas, we also increased funding in others where it will most powerfully and profoundly impact our mission. In order to assist our students, we increased our tuition by only 3 percent, the lowest increase in several years. We also offer Partner Plus, a unique and nationally noted program in which we pay a designated amount of our parents' loan interest payment while their student is enrolled as a full-time student here.

"And yes, we have increased our financial aid to students, recognizing that many families have been challenged by the recession."

Do you have remaining space available to expand the campus in Wauwatosa, and are there plans for expansion or the opening of satellite facilities?

"Throughout our 36-year history, we have been able to acquire properties that have permitted us to expand to our present campus footprint. We own most of the homes that border our eastern boundary, but have no immediate plans to further develop that Wauwatosa property. Our two residence halls completed in 2000 are full, and we will need to add another residence hall at some point in the near future. We currently own and already house students in apartment buildings or duplexes, mostly directly west of our campus, in Milwaukee.

"We also need to complete our athletic field facilities, located in the northwest quadrant of the Milwaukee County Grounds, just west of U.S. Highway 45, in order to better serve our students and all the community groups who use the fields. We don’t have immediate plans for satellite facilities."

You arrived in Wisconsin from Arizona. What are your views of the quality of higher education in the Milwaukee area and in Wisconsin?

"The greater Milwaukee area as well as the state of Wisconsin is blessed with tremendous institutions of higher learning — I already know that from my brief eight months here. The students we all serve only benefit from the breadth of excellence offered here, and Wisconsin Lutheran College is pleased to be among the 20 impressive independent colleges and universities found in Wisconsin. The combination of these fine private institutions and the well-recognized public University of Wisconsin state system provides an enviable choice for any Wisconsin student who wants to attend college."

How do you plan to increase Wisconsin Lutheran's visibility?

"We are in the process of conducting market research to help us develop a more visible presence throughout southeastern Wisconsin, especially greater Milwaukee. Our new School of Adult and Graduate Studies, our renewed focus on student enrollment, and our focus on Christian leadership will require an increased emphasis on marketing via the Internet, radio, and direct mail."