Sep 30, 2022

College of the Ozarks to hold inauguration for 17th president of the institution, Dr. Brad Johnson

Community invited to the celebration on Thursday, Oct. 13


POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks will host an inauguration ceremony for the installation of its 17th president, Dr. Brad Johnson, on Thursday, Oct. 13.

The event is free, and the public is invited to attend. Those interested may register via the following link:

“We look forward to welcoming our community to this historic event,” said Public Relations Director Valorie Coleman. “What a special opportunity to share with our friends from Ozark Mountain Country and beyond. Seating is limited. Register soon, so we can celebrate this meaningful milestone together.”

College of the Ozarks has not held an inauguration ceremony in more than 40 years. To help commemorate this special event, delegates from around the country have been invited to attend. Speakers representing the students, staff, faculty, workstations, alumni, and School of the Ozarks will extend a special greeting to Johnson.

“Laura and I are grateful to God for this wonderful opportunity and are delighted to join the C of O family and roll up our sleeves at Hard Work U.,” Johnson said. “We fell in love with College of the Ozarks from our very first visit. The College and community have welcomed our entire family with open arms, and we look forward to building upon the strong foundation laid by the leaders who have gone before us. We are deeply committed to the values and mission that have made the College what it is today. Great days are ahead as we continue to develop citizens of Christlike character who are well-educated, hardworking, and patriotic.”

Dr. Jerry C. Davis, who served the College as president for 34 years prior to Johnson, will give the chancellor’s charge and assist in presenting the presidential medallion. The College of the Ozarks Choir will perform the national anthem and a special song titled, “The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.”

“The C of O Board of Trustees welcomes Dr. and Mrs. Brad Johnson to Hard Work U.,” said Shawn McKenzie, chairman of the board. “As president, we know Dr. Johnson will continue to carry out the important mission of College of the Ozarks.”

Additional friends of the College, including pro-life activist Dr. Alveda King and former Attorney General John Ashcroft, will give special greetings as part of the ceremony.

The College of the Ozarks Board of Trustees announced Johnson as the new leader of the institution last spring. His term began June 1, 2022. Johnson served from 2012 to 2022 as the vice president for institutional advancement at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. He also served as interim president at the institution. In this role, he worked with the board to revise key institutional policies, engaged the board in discussion with the faculty of SBU, facilitated board training and restructuring, launched four new academic programs including agriculture, cybersecurity management, and global education for both elementary and middle school levels, developed a variety of new partnerships, and managed day-to-day operations of this multi-site institution.

Johnson is a Certified Fund-Raising Executive. He has raised more than $57 million in cash gifts and managed more than $41 million in estate gifts for SBU and Howard Payne University.

Johnson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in education from Baylor University in 1993. In 1996, he earned two master’s degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas: one in religious education and one in marriage and family counseling. He completed his Doctor of Education degree at Baylor University in 2005, with a focus on higher education administration.

Brad Johnson’s wife, Laura Lacey Johnson, is a commissioned fellow for the Colson Center for Christian worldview and shares her messages on Christian radio stations and social media outlets. She is a graduate of Howard Payne University and earned a Master of Arts in communication from Abilene Christian University. She worked as a radio personality and television news reporter in Texas. Dr. and Mrs. Johnson have two children, Evan and Elle. 

More about College of the Ozarks

College of the Ozarks is a fully accredited, Christian, four-year college located just outside Branson, Missouri. Founded in 1906 by Presbyterian minister Reverend James Forsythe as a high school called The School of the Ozarks, the institution became a junior college in 1956 before becoming a four-year bachelor’s program in 1965. It has been called College of the Ozarks since 1990.

The institution provides the opportunity for full-time students to work at one of more than 100 campus workstations or industries to defray the cost of their tuition. The remaining portion of the students’ expenses is covered through scholarships provided by gifts and contributions from donors who believe in and support the programs and policies of the College. The College’s Work Education Program and donor contributions allow C of O students to graduate debt-free.

In 2012, College of the Ozarks reopened School of the Ozarks, a classical Christian high school, and added the S. Truett Cathy Lower School grades K-6 in 2014 and grades 7 and 8 in 2018, completing the K-college format.

Starting as a tiny school on an Ozarks hill, the College has survived major fires, the Great Depression, wars, and struggles to be firmly established as one of America’s finest – and most distinctive – institutions. For more than 100 years, this unique institution has educated the head, heart, and hands of countless young people.