Alumnus, Former Trustee Gene Johnson to Receive Honorary Degree

Friday, May 9, 2014

CHARLOTTE - May 9. 2014 - Gene Johnson, a 1973 graduate of UNC Charlotte and the first alumnus to serve as chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service during the commencement ceremony scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Friday, May 9.

Johnson, who completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Belk College of Business, has held a number of influential roles at the University. He was Alumni Board president, and he served on the 49er Athletic Foundation Board, the Board of Visitors and the Belk College of Business Advisory Council. Most recently, he finished eight years on the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees, the last three years as chair. During his time as a trustee, Johnson chaired the Football Fundraising Capital Campaign, too.

As a philanthropist, Johnson provided financial support to construct the Barnhardt Student Activity Center and the Harris Alumni Center. He also established the Johnson Endowment for Teaching. In addition, Johnson was the driving force behind the establishment of a drum line to support the University’s football program, and he committed to lead fundraising efforts to establish a marching band for fall 2015.

Following graduation, Johnson joined the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of captain. After his discharge, he began a successful career as a certified public accountant with Haskins and Sells, a predecessor to Deloitte and Touche. He went on to head the Mergers and Acquisitions Group of Cable Investments Inc., and he also owned a cable television construction and engineering firm and served as chief operating officer of Enstar Cable Corp. He then became president of JC&A Inc., an investment banking and brokerage firm providing services to cable television, telephone and related industries. In 1991, he co-founded MJD Communications Inc., a provider of communications services that later became FairPoint Communications. During his tenure at FairPoint, Johnson also led corporate development efforts and served as executive vice president. He retired as chairman and chief operating officer of FairPoint Communications in 2009.

This year, UNC Charlotte will award degrees in three commencement ceremonies, and more than 3,600 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students have applied for graduation. The May 9 ceremony is for candidates in the Belk College of Business, College of Computing and Informatics, College of Health and Human Services and the Graduate School.

On Saturday, May 10, the University will hold ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The morning event will be to confer graduates of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the Graduate School. In the afternoon, the College of Arts + Architecture, College of Education, William States Lee College of Engineering and Graduate School will award degrees.

During the 10 a.m. ceremony, psychology professor Kimberly Buch will be recognized formally as one of the 2014 recipients of the UNC Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence. Established by the Board of Governors in 1994 to underscore the importance of teaching and to reward good teaching across the University, the BOG Awards for Excellence in Teaching are given annually to a tenured faculty member from each UNC campus. Winners must have taught at their present institutions at least seven years.  No one may receive the award more than once.

The first class of the Levine Scholars Program will graduate in the ceremonies. 



Media relations contact:  Buffie Stephens, 704-587-5830, 980-355-3110 (mobile),  Media should call for parking instructions and access.



UNC Charlotte to award more than 3,600 degrees in three commencement ceremonies
Gene Johnson to Receive Honarary Degree at UNC Charlotte Commencement