Dr. Johnson’s Biography

Dr. Mathew Johnson will begin his tenure as the 17th president of Albion College on July 1, 2020. A global leader in higher education, he leads the development of Carnegie Foundation Elective Classifications, the Elective Classification for Community Engagement, and a multi-year international Carnegie Community Engagement Classification project, involving 26 institutions of higher education across the world. Dr. Johnson co-founded and co-directs the National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement. He also sits on the editorial board for Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement, and has been recognized as an Ashoka Change Leader by the Ashoka Foundation. Dr. Johnson serves as a Carnegie Visiting Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and is a fellow at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University. He consults for universities globally and has led projects in Ghana, Bolivia, India and elsewhere.

For the past five years, Dr. Johnson has served as Associate Dean of the College for Engaged Scholarship, as well as Senior Fellow and Executive Director of the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service, at Brown University. Dr. Johnson led the development of a transformational strategic plan and oversaw the growth and development of curricular and co-curricular programs, including Brown in Washington, the Engaged Scholars Program, the Bonner Community Fellowship, the Brown University AmeriCorps VISTA Fellowship, Community Corps and the Royce Fellowship. He also guided new approaches to Faculty Fellowships and Community Practitioners in Residence. Under his leadership, the Swearer Center made significant curricular contributions to Brown, including guidance to departments endorsed by the College Curriculum Committee for capstones, for credit related to experiential learning, and for the creation of a new curricular category for “community-based learning and research” courses.

Dr. Johnson led several significant shifts in the Center. Commitments to diversity and inclusion led to fundamental changes in staffing, orientations to partner organizations and communities, and student-participation demographics. The Center embraced a philosophy that positioned community partners as experts and leaders, and worked to develop more robust co-curricular training for students to critically examine issues of power, privilege and positionality in their community engagement. He also secured significant new resources for the Center.

Earning his Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from Brandeis University, Dr. Johnson has been a faculty member for more than 20 years. He has held appointments as Professor of the Practice in Sociology and served as a tenured professor in both sociology and environmental studies at his undergraduate alma mater, Siena College.

Dr. Johnson maintains an active research and professional academic profile, including several edited volumes, chapters and articles on community engagement, including “Elective Carnegie Community Engagement Classification” (co-editor, Stylus, 2018), editor and author of “Deepening Community Engagement in Higher Education: Forging New Pathways” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and “Crossing Boundaries: Tensions and Transformation in International Service-Learning” (Stylus, 2014).