UVA Wise Names Gary C. Johnson as Next Provost

Gary Johnson
Courtesy of Gary C. Johnson

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise (UVA Wise) is pleased to announce that Gary C. Johnson, Ph.D., has been named the College’s next Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Johnson has a decade of experience as a provost and a passion for helping students and families appreciate the value of a liberal arts education. He will begin his post at UVA Wise on June 24.

While serving as provost at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina, Johnson co-led the development and implementation of the university’s strategic plan, developed and oversaw the institution’s development of a graduate school and initiated a revision of the academic affairs structure. Prior to that, as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska, Johnson enhanced student success and retention while facilitating the College’s successful reaffirmation of accreditation by its accrediting body and also partnering with regional leaders, local chambers of commerce and legislators. 

A lifelong proponent of the liberal arts, Johnson’s expertise is in introducing new programs and modes of delivery that meet the needs and expectations of today’s students and their communities—values he first discovered as an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia (UVA) and grew over his career at colleges where he has served as a faculty member, dean and provost. 

“I have a deep and abiding love for my time at UVA as an undergraduate, but I feel a calling to work in a smaller liberal arts environment. UVA Wise is both of those things,” Johnson said. “More than ever, students need strong liberal arts education, and I’m so impressed with how the College has set that mission for itself while remaining accessible to students.” 

In addition to helping students experience life-changing opportunities, Johnson says his first priorities will also include learning about the history of the College and identifying opportunities for all among the College community to celebrate UVA Wise’s academic areas of distinction. 

“Provost Johnson will bring considerable experience to UVA Wise at a time when our enrollment and reputation are not only growing, but while we are also adding to our already strong academic offerings,” said UVA Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry. “I look forward to seeing how Gary will help us as we continue to develop our undergraduate and graduate programs as well as our core curriculum to serve the needs of our graduates for the world they live in today as well as the world they will inherit and shape in years to come.” 

Johnson brings to UVA Wise not only experience as a college administrator but as a teacher of students much like those that attend UVA Wise. As a faculty member in the English department at the University of Findlay, he taught a range of writing-focused courses and served on the university’s committee for re-accreditation. As a scholar, Johnson has a particular interest in French, German and American literature and in narrative theory and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals as well as a book, The Vitality of Allegory, which was published by the Ohio State University Press in 2012. 

Johnson has an undergraduate degree in comparative literature from UVA and a Ph.D., also in comparative literature, from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. During his graduate studies he spent a year teaching English at France’s Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Paris. 

Johnson and his wife, Emily, have one son, Chase, and a daughter Madeleine. Chase is completing his degree at Duke University this spring, and Madeleine is a first-year student at Colorado College.