Daniel Pollock, Reporter
Pierce College Chancellor Michele Johnson won the Chief Executive Officer award given out by the Association of Community College Trustees. Johnson’s award was announced via Twitter Aug. 3.
According to ACCT’s website, the award winner is based on their commitment to initiating or developing innovative programs for two-year colleges. The CEO must demonstrate a caring attitude toward their board of trustees, administrators, faculty and students and actively develop, organize or support state or national two-year college education associations.
Johnson is the Pacific regional winner. The ACCT Pacific region includes Alaska; the Yukon Territory; British Columbia; the West Coast including Utah, Idaho and Arizona; and also includes Hawaii, American Samoa and other islands.
A Tacoma, Wash. native and Lincoln High School graduate, Johnson didn’t always plan to work in higher education. When she attended Washington State University, she majored in social justice.
“My mom always said I was born with a fairness gene,” Johnson said. “I’ve always cared about the social aspects of justice. I also liked the notion of investigations and thinking about solving problems.”
She now applies her history in social justice to her job as chancellor by making sure every student has the tools needed to succeed in life and college. She wears a rubber bracelet that says ‘committed to student success.’ She put the bracelet on five years ago and has worn it ever since.
Johnson decided to pursue an academic career after she helped co-teach a criminal justice class. Her first professorship was at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Later, Johnson returned to Washington and, in 1977, joined Pierce as a part-time faculty member. The next year she was hired full time and taught criminal justice, sociology and coached women’s fast pitch and basketball.
In 1999, Johnson became president of the Fort Steilacoom campus. In 2005, Johnson was selected as chancellor. Johnson’s duties as chancellor range from meetings with the
Pierce executive team, to making certain the college vision is upheld, to representing the college in Olympia.
Johnson said her personal vision for the college in one sentence is a diverse, inclusive and equitable college where all students can achieve their educational and professional goals through the assistance of a dynamic and diverse faculty and staff.
ACCT also awards trustees, faculty and staff members. One national winner is selected from each group of regional awardees. National winners were announced Oct. 7 at the annual ACCT Awards Gala in New Orleans.
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