Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (ӣӰ) Board of Trustees today announced the retirement of University President Dr. Arvid C. Johnson. He is the ninth president of the University and will leave his ministry on May 31, 2025, after 12 years of service. The Board will soon begin a national search for the next President.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. Johnson,” said Joe Mallof, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. “His passionate commitment to students and love of ӣӰ, coupled with fiscal responsibility and many accomplishments makes Dr. Johnson an active and innovative leader. The entire Board thanks Arvid and his wife, Anne, for their many years of service and dedication. We are very grateful for a yearlong transition period so we can find a next president who shares Dr. Johnson’s commitment to ӣӰ’s high standards and embodies our values.”

During his tenure, Dr. Johnson advanced the University locally, nationally, and globally. On campus improvements included renovations to the Plaster Center (Mode Theater) and Guardian Angel Hall that significantly upgraded learning spaces for many academic programs like ӣӰ’s Business Incubator and the Leach College of Nursing. The construction of a Science Building created a state-of-the-art environment in which students and faculty can “do science” and research in collaboration. The University now operates three dynamic Joliet campuses and will soon break ground on a student success center – which will collocate the registrar, advising, tutoring, and accessibility offices at the main campus.

Dr. Johnson’s service and leadership roles on boards, including the Council of Independent Colleges, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics helped ensure the University was well positioned on a national scale. Dr. Johnson also established international partnerships with leading universities in the Czech Republic, China, and Vietnam allowing hundreds of additional students to pursue ӣӰ undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

With his team, Dr. Johnson has substantially improved ӣӰ’s financial position and fiscal viability including building cash reserves, increasing net assets to an all-time high, more than doubling the University’s endowment, and raising over $50 million, including state and federal grants.

“As a leader in our Franciscan tradition, Dr. Johnson increased our student diversity and worked hard to structure ӣӰ as a learning community of welcome,” said Sr. Jeanne Bessette, OSF, President of the University’s founding/sponsoring congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. “We have achieved Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) status, and our student outcomes remain strong and above our peers. During his tenure, the University launched many new academic programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as dozens of certificate and certification programs. Arvid’s dedication to our values of community and service are very apparent and we wish him well.”

“This decade plus of service to ӣӰ has been one of the highlights of my professional life,” said Dr. Arvid Johnson. “But the time is right for me to move on to my next chapter. Anne and I look forward to that, while still remaining involved with ӣӰ.”

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 3,300 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 53,000 ӣӰ alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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ӣӰ President Dr. Arvid C. Johnson

Photo caption: University of St. Francis President Dr. Arvid C. Johnson, the University’s ninth president, will leave his ministry on May 31, 2025, after 12 years of service.

ӣӰ President Dr. Arvid C. Johnson with his wife, Anne.

Photo caption: ӣӰ President Dr. Arvid C. Johnson and his wife, Anne, cheered on the Fighting Saints at ӣӰ’s 2023 ӣӰ homecoming celebration.