Dr. Susan Whealler Johnston is executive vice president and chief operating officer, with day-to-day responsibility for the association’s work. In addition, she consults with individual governing boards to assist them in understanding their responsibilities and improving their performance. She joined the staff of AGB in 2000 and has directed a number of national projects since that time, including a study of governing boards’ responsibilities for educational quality, a multi-year project on college costs, and annual studies of governance best practices.
Prior to joining AGB, Dr. Johnston was at Rockford University (IL) for 18 years, and during that time served as a professor of English and held several administrative positions including dean of academic development. She also served as associate dean at Regent’s College in London, England. In addition to her work in higher education, she also has experience as a communications consultant and has worked with business and industry, governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations.
Dr. Johnston has extensive board experience. She is a member of the board of trustees of Rollins College, serving as chair of its Governance Committee. She is a member of the board of visitors of Radford University, and she chairs the board of trustees of the Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a member of the advisory committee of the National Institute on Learning Outcomes Assessment and the National Survey of Student Engagement, and serves on the Academic Affairs Committee of the board of Rockford University.
She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. with honors in 18th-century British literature from Purdue University and her B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Rollins College. She also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Rockford University. Her publications are on Jane Austen, communications, higher education, and governance. Included among her recent publications are The Academic Affairs Committee (2014), “How Governing Boards Fail” in Cautionary Tales: Strategy Lessons from Struggling Colleges (2012), A Survey of Higher Education Governance (2011 and 2009), and How Boards Oversee Educational Quality (2010).