On June 20, 2017, the Board of Trustees of Johnson University announced the selection of Dr. L. Thomas Smith, Jr. as president-elect. When he succeeds Dr. Gary Weedman on July 1, 2018, he will become the seventh president of the University in its 125 year history.
Dr. Smith, a native of Carter County, Tennessee, is a graduate of Johnson University (B.A., 1978), Emmanuel Christian Seminary (M.A.R., 1986), and the University of Tennessee (Ph.D., 1990). In his Statement of Acceptance, Smith said, “There are many who love Johnson University as much as I do, but no one loves Johnson any more than me…I have invested the past 28 years of my life in this institution, serving as professor, dean, and provost, as well as university historian. I know much about the past of this school, have had a hand in shaping the present, and am so grateful that the trustees have given me opportunity to lead Johnson into the future.”
Dr. Smith (Tommy) and his wife, Debbie, live near the campus of Johnson University in the Kimberlin Heights community and have two married sons, Jacob and Joshua, and six grandchildren. They attend the Crossings Knoxville church.
Dr. Gary Weedman, President of Johnson University offered his endorsement of Dr. Smith, citing his personal achievements and proven skillful leadership. He concluded, “Perhaps most importantly, he enthusiastically embraces our institutional mission ‘to educate students for Christian ministry and other strategic vocations framed by the Great Commission in order to extend the kingdom of God among all nations. I am happy to welcome him as the President-Elect of Johnson University.”
Dr. L.D. Campbell, chairman of the Board of Trustees at Johnson added, Dr. Smith has proven his value to Johnson University for many years in a variety positions…During his tenure as provost Dr. Smith has excelled in helping usher in an era of tremendous programs and faculty growth. Dr. Smith has demonstrated his commitment to the core values, mission, and vision of the University.”
Regarding his hopes for Johnson’s future, Dr. Smith stated, “We must continue to make this education affordable, making sure that anyone who “desires above every other desire” has access to the opportunity to prepare to extend God’s kingdom. All of this must be accomplished with the ethos of faith, prayer, and work.”
He continued, “As I wrote in the centennial history of Johnson nearly 25 years ago, “Faithfulness to the original impetus yet flexibility in response to change suggests the formula for success…[and] becomes the rudder by which the past guides the present. The institution honors its past by evaluating every response to changing contexts and challenges in light of its original purpose…I promise to keep my hand on that rudder.”
Dr. Smith became president-elect effective Tuesday, June 20, 2017. He anticipates continuing his role as provost until January 1, 2018. He will remain president-elect until July 1, 2018, when he will assume his new role as president of Johnson University.