In Memoriam

Susan Whealler Johnston

Susan Whealler Johnston, PhD, passed away on August 12, 2022, after a battle with cancer. Many of you may know Susan either from her time as CEO of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) or when she served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at AGB.

Susan was a dear friend to many AGB staff, consultants, partners, and college and university leaders. She worked tirelessly to demonstrate that institutional finances, academic quality, and board responsibilities were all deeply interwoven, and her perspectives on a host of higher education issues still echo in AGB’s work today. Susan was an expert voice on the value—and challenges—of shared governance in the rapidly changing landscape of higher education. During her time at AGB, she directed and contributed to multiple national projects that helped boards better understand their responsibilities for educational quality, fiscal integrity, presidential leadership, college completion, and more. She cared deeply about all segments of postsecondary education, but especially the small nonprofit colleges that opened their doors to students who might not be welcome elsewhere.

Susan served as board chair at Rollins College in Florida, a board member at Radford University in Virginia, and a board member for the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, among other appointments. Prior to her 18 years with AGB, Susan worked at Rockford University in Illinois, first as a professor of English and then in multiple administrative capacities: including dean of academic development. Her talents and hard work also earned her a position as associate dean at Regent’s College in London, England. Her scholarship focused on governance, higher education, and Jane Austen.

Beyond her professional expertise, Susan was a kind and welcoming individual. She served as a mentor for many students, recent graduates, and peers. Her keen mind and empathy made her a valued confidant and friend, and she was adept at leading her teams when times were easy and when they were hard. Diet Coke in hand, Susan was not afraid to roll up her sleeves to take on a challenging topic, and she could stand her ground in any conversation.

She dedicated her professional career to higher education, leaving a long-lasting impact that will continue to be felt for years to come.

She will be deeply missed.

Tributes and gifts.

NACUBO is collecting tributes about Susan’s impact on its website. If you would like to have a message included, please email In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Valley Conservation Council in Staunton, Virginia.

The Valley Conservation Council
In memory of Dr. Susan Whealler Johnston
P.O. Box 988
Staunton, VA 24402

(write “Susan Whealler Johnston” in the COMMENTS box)