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Becker College president selected to lead UMass Dartmouth

Robert Johnson comes from Becker College.

Robert E. Johnson, who raised the profile of Becker College as president for the past seven years, was named the new chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on Tuesday.

The University of Massachusetts board of trustees approved Johnson’s nomination, which was recommended by university president Martin T. Meehan, in a unanimous vote.

“Robert Johnson is an accomplished, visionary leader,” Meehan said in a statement. “He has developed innovative strategies that have revitalized institutions and transformed lives, and I am confident he will help UMass Dartmouth reach new levels of excellence.”

At Becker, a small private college with campuses in Worcester and Leicester, Johnson has been credited with making the school more entrepreneurial. Its game design program was ranked fifth in the country by the Princeton Review.


“I am humbled and honored to be named chancellor of UMass Dartmouth and am truly thrilled to be a part of the world-class UMass system,” Johnson said.

Meehan has said he wants the next Dartmouth chancellor to increase enrollment, bolster fund-raising, and strengthen the university’s role in the regional economy.

UMass Dartmouth has an enrollment of about 8,600 students. About 85 percent are from Massachusetts.

Johnson, who is 57, succeeds former chancellor Divina Grossman, who stepped down in December 2015 after more than three years leading the campus. Her announcement came after Meehan said he would terminate her without cause by the end of the school year amid concerns about the campus’s performance.

During Grossman’s tenure, enrollment and fund-raising dropped, while building maintenance needs increased.

The school also cycled through top administrators during her leadership, including three provosts and as many fund-raising chiefs and chief financial officers, the Globe reported.

Former Muhlenberg College president Randy Helm has been serving as the school’s interim leader.

Johnson is a member of the state Board of Higher Education, vice chairman of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Board, and chairman of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Detroit native holds degrees from Touro University International, the University of Cincinnati, and Morehouse College. Before joining Becker in 2010, he served as senior vice president of Sinclair Community College, in Dayton, Ohio and vice president of enrollment management at the University of Dayton.


Roy Greene can be reached at roy.greene@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @roygreene.