Driving Change in Higher Education.

Roger Johnson

Roger-Johnson-PhotoAlumni Spotlight on Roger Johnson

Are you involved currently in community or volunteer work? If so, what types of projects:
I am a member of our community club in which I volunteer my time on the various projects that are conducted throughout the year including National Night Out, neighborhood gatherings, as well as sponsoring information topics on what’s going on in the city like street improvements that affect our neighborhood.   

Current job: 
Director of Student Life, Lake Superior College

Where did you attend college? 
I attended the Duluth Community College (which is currently Lake Superior College) where I received my associate degree and then transferred to the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Major:  
Communications Major and Political Science Minor

What position(s) did you hold while in MSCSA?  
Back then it was called MCCSA which stood for the Minnesota Community College Student Association. The governing body was called the Council of Presidents and I was a part of that since I was the Student Senate President.  MCCSA had no staff–it was run by elected students.  Senate advisors were not allowed to attend meetings, which only hampered our efforts and knowledge.  I seem to recall that one of the MCCSA presidents had gotten into a bit of trouble when he decided to pay for personal things with student funds.  Good thing we have accountability now.

What drew you to become involved in MSCSA?  
When I was the Student Senate President, the Minnesota Legislature was examining the need to close the Duluth Community College.  So I got really involved with the MCCSA to get student support from across the state.  We were able to collaborate with college faculty, administrators, state representatives and senators and succeeded in our efforts.  The outcome merged the Duluth Community College and the Duluth Technical College.  
As it turns out, this happened across the state with the creation of MnSCU.  That’s also when MSCSA came to be.  It merged with the MCCSA and the MTCSA (Minnesota Technical College Student Association).  

There were a few things that needed to be worked out with this merger.  Since MCCSA did not allow advisors to attend and MTCSA required advisors to attend, a bit of a rift developed.  It was finally decided that advisors could attend, but they were to have special seating area where it was roped off.  Glad to see things have changed since then. 

What did you learn from your experience in MSCSA that positioned you for future success?
I’m not sure how to begin.  The experience taught me many things.  But I will go out on a limb and say the biggest thing was collaboration and teamwork.  When people got together, we tried to focus on what we agreed on, not what we didn’t, and how do we make it work. 

What advice would you like to share with current/future members?
Find a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life.  Yes, I love my job!

Proudest MSCSA moment?
For me MSCSA’s proudest moment has been how far it has progressed from where it started and to where it is today.  I remember when some of the cabinet would come to meetings wearing pajamas and slippers.  I remember dress codes discussed regularly at the Governing Council meetings.  Now we have people wearing 3 piece suites when the attire states business casual.  
As time went on, MSCSA went from just conducting business meetings and talked about purchasing a copier for 3 hours (no kidding, 3 hours after the approval was already given at a prior meeting) to conducting training workshops that benefit all the students that attend to better represent each campus’s student body.

Back when there was an MCCSA, there was little or no contact with legislators.  Now MSCSA appears regularly at committee meetings and is also involved at a national level.

As for advisors being tolerated at the beginning to now be included as an important part of the group.  MSCSA even asks for our input, how delightful.  
But personally, the proudest moment is when I was selected as Student Senate President of the Year back in ’91.  

What leader inspires you?
Here’s another tough one.  I’m a big fan of President Kennedy.  But I truly believe that there is no one leader that inspires me the most.  I get inspired by a number of leaders.  These leaders are from a wide spectrum.  Some are the more famous leaders like President Kennedy and Justice Allen Page.  Some are normal everyday people which demonstrate leadership qualities whether it’s students, faculty, administrators, or that person sitting in a community meeting.  Sometimes I even get inspired by fictional characters in a book that do the right thing.  That’s sad, I know, but what the heck.

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