Mission and Philosophy
In December 2012 the FCC board sent a letter to Johnson’s Board, expressing interest in joining Johnson University. In January President Weedman sent a due diligence team to Florida to explore the feasibility of such a merger. The team found that the two schools shared a similar mission and philosophy. Both agreed they could accomplish more for the kingdom together than they could apart. Change is always difficult, but this unity of purpose and harmony of spirit formed the basis for a remarkably smooth transition from two institutions to one.
Johnson had just completed a three-year review resulting in a restatement of its historical mission, a change of name from “Johnson Bible College” to “Johnson University,” a flexible organizational structure designed for growth, and refinement of its educational approach. FCC approved of this direction, so both Boards unanimously agreed that the merged institution would function under the Johnson University name and mission, charter and bylaws, board and administrative governance, educational standards and philosophy. For legal purposes, Knoxville would serve as the “main campus” and corporate headquarters, while Kissimmee would become a “branch campus” operating as “Johnson University Florida.”
Both Johnson and FCC were accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). Johnson submitted a merger prospectus to both agencies on April 15. In June both approved the union, effective July 1, 2013. In January 2014 ABHE and SACSCOC will send teams to both campuses to review progress.
On July 1, FCC’s board dissolved and Johnson’s current trustees became the governing board of the combined University.
FCC president Bill Behrman left the College in May 2013 to assume a position with Christian Financial Resources Inc. The Florida board appointed Johnson’s president emeritus, David Eubanks, to serve as FCC’s acting president until July 1. On that date, Johnson’s current president, Gary Weedman, became president of the merged University. David Eubanks will remain in Florida for several more months as chief operating officer (COO) for that campus. The COO serves on the president’s cabinet and focuses primarily on public relations, fundraising, campus finances, and physical plant.
Likewise on July 1, Johnson’s senior administrators (vice presidents and other cabinet-level officers) assumed oversight of their respective Florida departments. To illustrate: FCC’s chief financial officer now reports to Johnson’s vice president of business and finance. FCC’s admissions director now reports to Johnson’s dean of enrollment services. While some responsibilities have shifted, virtually the entire FCC faculty and staff have remained with Johnson University.
The branch campus is semi-autonomous, with its own discrete campus culture and traditions honoring its FCC heritage. However, Johnson does not intend to create a “silo” that operates in isolation from the main campus. New virtual meeting and distance classroom technology facilitate communication, enabling personnel on both campuses to be full participants in pursuing the aims of the multi-campus university.
Academic Administration and Faculty Governance
In 2012 Johnson organized its faculty into eight “schools” centered on professional fields or disciplines—namely, the Schools of Arts & Sciences, Bible & Theology, Business & Public Leadership, Congregational Ministry, Creative Arts, Education, Intercultural Studies, and Social
& Behavioral Sciences. The faculty experts in each school exercise direct oversight of all programs related to their fields—undergraduate and graduate, traditional and non-traditional, on-ground and online, Tennessee and elsewhere. This approach yields many benefits, such as better alignment of undergraduate and graduate programs. Each school is led by a faculty dean, who reports to the vice president for academic affairs/provost.
The provost chairs an academic council consisting of the deans, certain administrators and managers, and elected faculty representatives. Academic program and policy decisions affecting only one school are made by the dean and faculty of that school in consultation with the provost. Decisions that require a broader “university perspective” are made by the academic council and, in some cases, by the entire faculty. Johnson has integrated Florida personnel into its academic governance structure. To illustrate: The provost assigned FCC professors to the appropriate schools according to their expertise. The Florida faculty elected representatives to serve on Johnson’s academic council and strategic planning committee. FCC’s vice president of academics now serves as associate provost for the Florida campus and a member of the academic council. Other faculty members have accepted roles as assessment coordinators or assistant deans for their respective schools. In the future, some school deans may be based in Kissimmee.
Florida Christian College offered only undergraduate programs (associate and bachelor’s degrees), while Johnson University offers both undergraduate and graduate programs (master’s and doctor’s degrees). FCC bachelor’s degrees featured a mandatory first major in Bible and (in most cases) a second major in Ministry with a “specialization” in some professional area, such as youth & family, counseling, or musical arts. The merged university will continue offering Bible and Ministry majors in Florida. Over the next few years, Johnson will expand some specializations into full majors and add new undergraduate and graduate programs in Florida.
Dr. Davis serves as vice president for academic affairs/provost and professor of Biblical theology for Johnson University. He holds the B.A. and B.Th. from Johnson, as well as the Th.M., D.Min., and Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. He completed additional studies at Milligan College, United Theological Seminary, and Jerusalem University College. Dr. Davis has served as professor of New Testament and vice president of academics for Crossroads College in Rochester, Minnesota; professor of New Testament and dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies for Hope International University in Fullerton, California; founding dean of the Division of Online and Professional Studies for California Baptist University in Riverside, California; and founding dean of Azusa Pacific Online University in Azusa, California. An ordained minister, he has worked with churches in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Virginia. As short-term missionaries involved in leadership training, he and his wife Cathy helped establish the New Hope Church of Christ in Kasama, Zambia. Major scholarly works include The Structure of Paul’s Theology: “The Truth Which Is the Gospel” (Mellen Biblical Press), The College Press NIV Commentary: Revelation (College Press of Joplin, Missouri), and A Shaking on the Sea: A Theological Reflection on Jesus Calming the Storm in Matthew 8:23-27 (not yet published).