Alaska’s top education official is returning to his South Carolina alma mater to serve as the new associate dean at Columbia International University.
Michael Johnson’s first day at CIU will be Aug. 1. He has been Alaska’s commissioner of education for the past six years.
Over a 30-year career in Alaska, Johnson also served as superintendent, school principal, director of district curriculum and staff development, elementary teacher and special education program assistant.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and a master’s degree in elementary education from CIU, as well as a doctorate of philosophy in education and intercultural studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is married and the father of two teenagers.
Johnson, who grew up in Georgia, recently called 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,” he said. “I am returning to CIU grateful for the past, the present and this new chapter in our lives.”
He is looking forward to serving his alma mater 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. “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.”
South Carolina’s Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman is a close associate of Johnson’s and has served with him on the board of directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers.
"I am thrilled that Michael Johnson will be joining CIU and the South Carolina family," Spearman said. “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.”