After serving nine years as the President of Northeast Texas Community College, Dr. Brad Johnson is bidding the college farewell. A special meeting was held last month by Northeast’s Board of Trustees to accept Johnson’s resignation and release him from his contract.
“The decision was actually quite difficult and taken quite a bit of time,” Johnson said. “We, even today, have real mixed feelings about the decision because this is a terrific place, and we have a wonderful team that I get to work with every day. The community is very supportive of the college, so it’s a great place to work. My goodness, the campus is out in the middle of one of the most beautiful parts of the state of Texas. There are a lot of things about leaving that are going to be difficult.”
Johnson said that he and his wife, Vicki, started consciously talking about leaving a little over a year ago after the decision for them to be closer to his parents aligned with the closure of his many accomplishments, such as the $20 million renovation.
“It was evident that the major projects that have dominated my attention for the last six or seven years are all coming to an end or reaching a sustainable level all at the same time,” Johnson said. “As I began to think about that, I realized this is a moment where it may be the right time to change if I’m going to change because you don’t want to start on a commitment and then leave the institution in the middle of that.”
Someone who has worked closely with Johnson throughout his tenure has been Executive Assistant to the President Pat Tallant. Tallant said she has enjoyed working with Johnson over the past nine years. Johnson has always made time for the students. Tallant said that Johnson has always been looking for a way to make the college a better place.
“Dr. Johnson is an amazing boss,” Tallant said. “Although he maintained an extremely busy schedule, he always made time to talk to any student who came by or called – he never turned anyone away. He is a true visionary – always looking positively toward the future of our college, and inspiring all of us to do so, as well.”
After resigning, Johnson will be moving to West Texas where he will take the position of Vice President of Strategic Relations at West Texas A&M. His first vision will be to open the doors for transfers, leaving his heart set on community college students.
“The university wants to become world class at serving transfer students,” Johnson said. “What really sealed the deal for this being the right opportunity for me was that they want to learn how to take good care of community college transfer students. We’ve been trying to get students ready to go to the university, and now I’ll get the opportunity to try to open the doors wide for those students to be able to come.”
The administrative leadership’s ability to work as a team helps Johnson feel more comfortable with leaving the college in the place that it’s at now.
“The leadership of the college is in a very good place,” Johnson said. “For the first time in the last three years, all of our senior leadership positions are filled with talent that I feel is really exceptional. I feel good that the college is in a very good place.”
Johnson said he feels confident about the board’s decision to name Executive Vice President of Student Instruction Dr. Ron Clinton as interim president.
“Dr. Clinton is without question the most talented college administrator that I have ever seen,” Johnson said. “It has really been a great honor to work with him, so I feel good about his interim appointment here.”
Clinton has been with the college since it’s opening in 1985. He started as an instructor, then moved into his vice president position in 2004. He remained there until he retired in 2012. Clinton returned in 2014 to move back into his Vice President position. In the future, he hopes to move into a permanent position as President of Northeast.
“I will be applying for the permanent position,” Clinton said. “I would hope that I would be able to leave this institution on a permanent basis. I’ve been involved in this college for many years, and I would love to continue to see it succeed and continue leading it in the right direction.”
Clinton’s main goal as interim president is to create a smooth transition for the college as he acts as interim president while keeping the college moving forward.
“It’s going to be a busy time, but I have a great instructional administrative team that I work with also,” Clinton said. “We’re in the process of working out some of the things that I may be able to hand off to the administrative leadership team that will allow me to focus more on the interim presidency.”
As Clinton moves into the interim position and Johnson steps away, Johnson said that the college is able to accomplish anything if it’s important as long the leadership has the need and the confidence that they can do so.
“I think what we’ve showed ourselves in this last 9 years is that there really isn’t anything in any sector that we can’t accomplish if it’s important.” Johnson said. “I hope that there is a belief in this college today, the confidence, because the talent is here and the need is here, so if you can add that third thing, that the college is confident that they can achieve these things, then great things will continue to happen.”