St. Francis welcomes new president
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org February 28, 2013 9:30PM
Dr. Arvid Johnson (center), the newly installed president, addresses the crowd at the University of St. Francis Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 2, 2013 6:30AM
JOLIET — The University of St. Francis on Thursday welcomed a new president, Arvid C. Johnson, who will begin to lead the Joliet institution in June.
A large crowd cheered on Johnson during a ceremony in the Pat Sullivan Center at the campus on Wilcox Street. Johnson, of Frankfort, serves as dean of the Brennan School of Business at Dominican University, where he also is a tenured professor of management.
“I believe it’s clear that the University of St. Francis is well-positioned to continue to accomplish great things for its students and the communities it serves,” Johnson told the Joliet audience Thursday.
“I recognize and am humbled by the trust that you have placed in me to steward your University of St. Francis,” he said. “I pledge to each and every one of you today that I will work hard to earn the trust that you have placed in me each and every day that I am here.”
Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Lewis University in Romeoville; a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Northeastern University in Boston; a master’s in business administration from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; and a doctoral degree in management science from the Stuart School of Business at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, according to the Joliet university’s website, www.stfrancis.edu.
“While USF might mean different things to each of you, in the heart we all share one vision, and that is to transform students into leaders, inspired by Franciscan values and traditions to serve and shape our world,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s address was positive, with plenty of humor. He thanked the audience for welcoming him and his wife, Anne, to the university family.
“And I recognize just that — that USF is a family. In fact, I’m proud to report that on Monday afternoon I received a Facebook friend request from no less than Bernie the St. Bernard himself,” he said, prompting laughter with his reference to the school mascot. “And I think in accepting, I have begun my transition into becoming a full member of the staff.”
Arvid and Anne Johnson reside in Frankfort with their three sons.
Johnson commended outgoing President Michael Vinciguerra, who has led the university since 2002.
He listed Vinciguerra’s achievements over the past decade: increased enrollments; special accreditation for special programs in business, nursing, education and social work; and — perhaps most importantly, he said — engaging the university community in a meaningful discussion of its Franciscan Catholic identity.
That last item brought loud cheers from the audience. This university was established in 1920 by the Congregation of the Third Order of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, the university website said. Today, USF serves 3,400 students nationwide. In June, Johnson will become the university’s ninth president.