April 24, 2013
KNOXVILLE – A public relations executive with diverse experience at multiple universities has been selected as vice president for communications and marketing for the University of Tennessee System, UT President Joe DiPietro announced today.
Dr. Tonjanita Johnson, currently chief deputy to the president at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, was chosen by DiPietro following a comprehensive, national search. Johnson will join UT on June 24.
“This position is not only critical to ensuring the University’s positive momentum and high regard we enjoy from our many distinct stakeholder groups, it’s also key to implementation of the UT System Strategic Plan, particularly its goal regarding advocating for the UT System,” DiPietro said. “The vice president will collaborate with our campus and institute leaders and communicators to raise awareness in Tennessee and the nation of the UT System’s collective value and daily impact in education, research and public service.
“Dr. Johnson has excellent skills, expertise and broad experience to serve in this role, and we look forward to her joining our team. I am confident in her ability to lead strategic communication and marketing efforts at this important time for the University as we seize upon the national emphasis on the value and impact of higher education.”
The vice president for communications and marketing has responsibility for overall communications, research-based messaging, marketing, and branding activity for the UT System.
“It is a tremendous honor for me to join the University of Tennessee family and to take a leading role in promoting the UT System’s agenda for higher education,” Johnson said. “I am extremely proud of my new affiliation with the UT brand and look forward to developing productive relationships across the state and the nation on behalf of this exceptional system as I engage in my new role as vice president.”
As chief of staff for Stony Brook University’s president since 2010, Johnson has been responsible for assisting the president with strategic planning, including outlining and communicating presidential priorities. She also has overseen the university’s Office of Conferences and Special Events, Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action/Title IX, Employee Assistance Program, Ombuds Office and the Office of Organizational Wellness and Healthier U Initiatives.
From 2008 to 2010, Johnson was associate vice president for marketing and communications at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. There, she led integration of marketing, public relations, publications, media relations and web communications activities and was responsible for developing and managing MTSU’s official internal and external communications programs.
From 2001 to 2008, Johnson served in a series of progressively more responsible positions at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena. A year after joining the university as director of public relations, Johnson was promoted to chief of staff and executive assistant to the president, a post she held for five years. She concluded her service there as executive assistant to the president and associate vice president for university relations.
Johnson also has held faculty appointments at each of the last three universities she has served, teaching courses in higher education leadership, communication and public relations.
Her career began in 1991 as a newspaper reporter for The Decatur Daily in Decatur, Ala. She was on the communication staff of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa from 1993 to 1996, and worked as a graphic designer, copy editor, freelance writer and communication consultant from 1996 to 2001.
Johnson received a doctoral degree in urban higher education from Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. She received master’s and bachelor’s degrees in communication from the University of Alabama.
She will fill a vacancy created by the 2012 retirement of Hank Dye as UT vice president for public and government relations. As a part of the restructuring of that office following Dye’s departure, Anthony Haynes was named UT vice president for government relations and advocacy. The search to fill the vice president for communications and marketing post has been under way since November.
Johnson’s resume / curriculum vita and a photo are available here.
Dr. Tonjanita Johnson, incoming Vice President for Communications and Marketing