SUNY Potsdam alumnus Lt. Col. David Johnson ’77 is set to share his experiences as an educator and a soldier with graduating master’s students at his alma mater. As the featured speaker for the College’s 176th Master’s Commencement Ceremony, he will deliver the keynote address to 200 master’s graduates, along with their family members and friends, on Saturday, May 22 in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall.
“SUNY Potsdam is pleased to welcome David Johnson as our featured Master’s Commencement speaker. His leadership, integrity and dedication are prime examples of what we hope every Potsdam graduate will achieve,” College President Dr. John F. Schwaller said. “SUNY Potsdam’s graduate students, many of them future educators, will be very fortunate to hear the insights of such an inspiring alumnus.”
Johnson is a seasoned leader in two distinct but overlapping fields—education and military service. A senior intelligence duty officer for the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Johnson recently returned to the U.S. after serving in Iraq, where he managed the Combined Intelligence Operations Center, Multi-National Forces at Camp Slayer in Baghdad. An educator by profession, Johnson works as a program manager for Harcourt Educational Measurement in San Antonio, Texas, where he has developed large-scale educational assessments. He is also an associate faculty member in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio. This civilian role follows many years spent in the education field as a teacher and administrator in schools around the country.
After graduating from SUNY Potsdam in 1977 with his bachelor’s degree, Johnson went on to teach music before joining the Air Force. He later completed his master’s degree in music education at the College, while serving as a residence hall director. Johnson went on to earn an additional master’s degree from South Dakota State University and completed his doctorate at Indiana University.
Johnson is vice president of the Potsdam College Foundation Board of Trustees. He also established and funds the Nannie Zelle Johnson Memorial Scholarship, which helps minority students from metropolitan areas who demonstrate financial need and academic promise to complete their teaching certification.
Founded in 1816, SUNY Potsdam is a four-year liberal arts college nestled on the outskirts of the Adirondack Park. Among the 64 units of The State University of New York system, SUNY Potsdam has the longest history and currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. It is well known for its academically challenging liberal arts and sciences and teacher education programs, as well as its world-renowned Crane School of Music.