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USF welcomes new president

Replacing retiring Vinciguerra, Johnson will begin term in June

Dr. Arvid Johnson, who will become president of the University of St. Francis on June 1, speaks during a welcoming ceremony held in his honor of Feb. 28.
Dr. Arvid Johnson, who will become president of the University of St. Francis on June 1, speaks during a welcoming ceremony held in his honor of Feb. 28.

JOLIET, Ill. – The energy in the University of St. Francis Pat Sullivan Center was electric on the day the world bid Catholic Pope Benedict XVI a fond farewell. However, the excitement at USF wasn’t about saying goodbye.

It was about saying hello.

USF Board Chairman J.D. Ross introduced the university’s newly appointed president, Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., at a special community welcome reception lastThursday afternoon.

Johnson will begin his tenure when President Michael Vinciguerra, Ph.D. retires on May 31. 

“We had an outstanding field of candidates, but there was one person who we felt best represented the mission of this university,” said Ross as Johnson and his wife, Anne, looked on.

Johnson, of Frankfort, Ill., is presently the dean of the Brennan School of Business at Dominican University, where he also is a tenured professor of management and has taught undergraduate and graduate business courses.

Prior to beginning his career in higher education, Johnson was a principal in a management consulting firm.He worked with companies ranging in size from startups to multi-million-dollar business units of Fortune 500 companies to describe, account for, explain and exploit the variability present in their manufacturing and service processes.

He also has more than 15 years of engineering, manufacturing and senior management experience in a variety of business environments, including Northrop Grumman Corporation, Microwave Laboratories and Varian Associates. He has numerous other accomplishments and board experiences.

Sr. Dolores Zemont, O.S.F., president of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, extended a welcome to Johnson on behalf of the founding and sponsoring congregation of the university.

“We look forward to working with you and promise you our loving support,” she said after leading the room of more than 300 employees and friends in prayer.

Johnson is an active member of St. Mary Catholic Church in Mokena and is a 4th degree Knight of Columbus, which is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization.

When introduced to the podium, Johnson ap-proached with an enthusiastic smile.

“I recognize and am humbled by the trust that you — the Sisters, trustees, faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni and members of the community — have placed in me to steward your University of St. Francis,” he said.

“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.”

Several students, employees, alumni, donors and friends of the university watched from the crowd. One of them, donor John Leach — for whom the university’s Cecily and John Leach College of Nursing is named — is looking forward to Johnson’s leadership.

“I think he will be a great asset to this university,” said Leach.

Undergraduate Admis-sions Director Cindy Cruz added, “He has experience working at a Hispanic-serving institution, which is what we’re striving for at USF, so I’m very excited about that.”

At the end of the reception, Ross was asked if he and the board were relieved to have such an important duty behind them.

“Well, yes, but it’s very exciting,” he said. “We had three outstanding final candidates and we believe we selected the ‘best of the best.’"

The University of St. Francis in Joliet serves 3,400 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in arts and science, business, education, nursing and health care and social work

For information, call (800) 735-7500 or visit

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