Craig Johnson
Craig Johnson
February 28, 2014

Craig Johnson cut to the chase about how he should be measured following a potential first year on the job as leader of the Des Moines Area Community College Carroll campus.

"Are they glad I'm here and hoping I would stay?" Johnson said he'd ask himself about the reaction from the college and the Carroll area of his performance.

Johnson, currently the director of Winona State University's branch campus in Rochester, Minn., is one of the final five candidates for the position of Carroll campus provost with DMACC. A nine-member search committee interviewed Johnson this morning, and he was expected to meet with students, faculty and community members throughout the rest of the day.

Johnson has served as an educator at Winona State, Tulane University in New Orleans, Colorado College in Colorado Springs, and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Prior to assuming the director's position at Winona State, which he's held since May 2007, Johnson was campus administrator for Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, Wis.

"A community college is a key part of the backbone of a healthy community and region along with K-12 education, health care and government services," Johnson told the DMACC search committee.

Johnson said the strength of a community college is in its very definition as an institution tied to the "community."

"It's in the name," Johnson said. "You do it right, it's embedded in the community."

Colleges, he said, shouldn't be "academic islands." For example, Winona State in Rochester has been closely involved with the prestigious Mayo Clinic for nursing.

Johnson has played a role in economic-development projects in Wisconsin and Minnesota, notably development of a $1.6 million workforce development center at Moraine Park. Johnson is a former member of the West Bend (Wis.) School Board with an extensive resume of community involvement.

Johnson earned a bachelor's degree in art from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point before going on to collect a master's degree in art history from Tulane and a master's in higher education from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

The DMACC Carroll provost search committee is expected to make final recommendations today. College officials plan to announce the successor to former Carroll Provost Steve Schulz within weeks. Schulz left Carroll late last year to take a community college post in Mason City.