Albion College President Mathew Johnson has resigned after serving about 18 months at the small college in Calhoun County, the school’s board of trustees said Wednesday. Instead, he will head a new organization associated with the college.
Trustee Joseph Calvaruso will serve as interim president while the board appoints a firm to find Johnson’s successor, the board said. His resignation took effect on Friday.
Announcing his departure, the curators praised Johnson’s work, including opening a school to expand professional learning opportunities, launching a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative, and restructuring university finances.
“He has not inherited a manual for dealing with a global pandemic, but his decisive action and strong leadership have enabled us to deliver an exceptional living experience at a time when many institutions were completely remote and others were closed,” said the CEO Michael Harrington.
Albion demanded of the students tested for COVID-19 and quarantined when they arrive on campus in fall 2020, and students were unable to leave campus upon arrival. It was the first college in Michigan announce a campus-wide vaccination mandate this year.
“While incredibly challenging, I loved my time serving Albion and successfully leading the college through the pandemic and strengthening our financial position,” Johnson said in the press release.
Albion, a private, not-for-profit college, has 1,506 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Johnson came under fire from students, faculty and staff this fall, accusing him of ignoring the needs of colored students and harassing students and staff, according to a petition demanded his removal, which garnered more than 2,000 signatures. The anonymous petitioner also said Johnson hinted to non-white employees that he hired them because of their race.
The petitioner also criticized Johnson for bringing a pair of goats onto campus in violation of city ordinances. The Albion Pleiad college newspaper, reported the goats were Introduced as therapy animals in spring 2021, but later university officials decided to use them to combat invasive species as the city ordinance prohibited the goats from being kept on campus. The goats were brought to a petting zoo in August.
The petition also claims that Johnson hired a construction company he has connections with to get “unnecessary jobs on the Albion campus”.
Johnson referred a request for comment to spokeswoman Mary Ann Sabo.
Albion College founded a construction company, WG Construction Services LLC, last year to address the “significant labor shortage” in the local construction industry. The construction company does some work for the college and takes on outside clients, says the college on its website.
WG Construction Services is located at 501 East Michigan Ave. Registered in Albion which city property records indicate is a university owned building. As president, Johnson served as the registered agent on state business filings, Sabo said. The college owns the construction company.
Johnson referred a request for comment to Sabo.
The Albion Trustees signaled their “full and ongoing support” to Johnson on October 21 when they died Dissolution of support describe his achievements.
They credited him with “significant academic, financial, and social achievements” during a pandemic, including establishing new programs in college and working with community groups to promote economic development in the surrounding city.
In the resolution, the Trustees recognized the challenge Johnson faced in his first year liaising with stakeholders and asked him to “provide them with a comprehensive plan to address specific concerns, invest in relationship building, and new channels of communication to develop”.
You also alluded to the criticism Johnson received. They condemned his opponents, alleging they were spreading misinformation and making “persistent and unjustified allegations” against Johnson, the university administration and the trustees.
Johnson was hired as president in the spring of 2020, with a start date July 1.
Johnson becomes president of the Commission for Public Purpose in Higher Education, an organization that announced the college in November.
Albion too announced in November Starting next spring, it will operate Carnegie Classifications, which categorizes accredited colleges and universities based on their degree programs and the level of their research activities. Carnegie Classifications is affiliated with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a New Jersey policy and research center founded by Andrew Carnegie.
The Commission for Public Purpose in Higher Education is an extension of the Carnegie classifications aimed at “taking initiatives that examine the public purpose of higher education through collaboration,” the announcement said.
Johnson worked for the Carnegie Foundation before joining Albion, according to his LinkedIn page.
“This new role will allow me to focus fully on the work I love, strengthening the public purpose of higher education institutions nationally and internationally, and building on the lessons learned from our work in Albion,” Johnson said in the press release announcing his departure.
Sabo declined to produce a copy of Johnson’s contract or surrender his salary. Johnson’s predecessor, former President Mauri Ditzler, earned $ 386,048 in 2019, according to the college latest IRS 990 filing. Retired Ditzler last year.