Alaska’s Top Education Official Named Associate Dean at Columbia International University

Dr. Michael Johnson

Dr. Michael Johnson

The new associate dean of Columbia International University’s College of Education will bring a wealth of experience to impart to students at his alma mater after serving as Alaska’s commissioner of education for the last six years.

Over a 30-year career, Dr. Michael Johnson has also served in Alaska as a superintendent, school principal, district curriculum and staff development director, elementary teacher, and special education program assistant. He holds both a bachelor’s degree in Bible (’94) and a master’s degree in elementary education (’97) from CIU, and a doctorate of philosophy in education and intercultural studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Johnson, who grew up in Georgia, calls his return to CIU, “a dream come true.”

I'd always hoped I could return to participate in the stewardship of CIU's mission and vision,” said Johnson who is married with two teenagers. “After 30 years in Alaska, I am returning to CIU grateful for the past, the present, and this new chapter in our lives.”

It’s not often that the next generation of educators learn from someone with Johnson’s extensive administrative, classroom and even political experience. He’s looking forward to sharing it not only as associate dean, but also as a faculty member.

“Serving as commissioner has been an opportunity to learn about and experience leadership, government, and systems in a variety of settings and jurisdictions,” Johnson said, adding “I hope to be a complement to the team, and that God will use my unique experiences along with the unique experiences of other people to equip and prepare students.”

A close associate of Johnson is South Carolina's Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. She has served with him on the board of directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers where she has "observed his steady leadership skills."

"I am thrilled that Michael Johnson will be joining CIU and the South Carolina family," Spearman said in a statement. "He is regarded as a mentor and friend to state educators across the United States. He will do a magnificent job in his new role at CIU."

Johnson begins his role at CIU on Aug. 1.

With record enrollment for five straight years, CIU consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report, as well as a Best Value Regional University in the South. Request information on enrollment by contacting Admissions at (803) 807-5024 or .

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