Office of the President
About President David Johns
Dr. David Johns came to Ferrum College as president in January 2018, after spending nearly thirty years working in private higher education. He is committed to education that inspires, transforms, and that builds thoughtful and responsible leaders devoted to serving their communities. President Johns is a student-centered, visionary leader who is often seen on campus interacting with students, faculty, staff, and with families who are visiting the College. He and Susan Johns live on campus in Stratton House, where they host a number of gatherings each semester for the Ferrum College community.
In his October 2019 inaugural address, President Johns stated, “The kind of education that has the power to transform is the kind that gets its hands dirty, the kind that digs into the challenges of our world.”
Dr. Johns grew up in a working class family in northeast Ohio. His paternal grandmother was a first-generation immigrant and his mother was reared in the mountains of West Virginia; like many students at Ferrum College, he is the first in his family to attend college.
Before becoming Ferrum College’s twelfth president, Dr. Johns taught religious studies for many years at the Earlham School of Religion (IN) and Wilmington College (OH); he was vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college at Union College (KY), and he has also worked as a college chaplain and academic librarian.
Committed to experiential learning and research, Dr. Johns has led cross-cultural study groups to Mexico and Honduras, was scholar-in-residence at both the Center for Christian Studies in Newberg, Oregon and the Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos in Mexico City. He has been involved with the Quaker Theological Discussion Group and served as an editor of the journal, Quaker Religious Thought. Dr. Johns has published widely in the area of theological studies. His work includes: Quakering Theology (2013), The Collected Writings of Maurice Creasey (2011), Mysticism and Ethics in Friedrich von Hügel (2004), and a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies (2013).
Since his arrival, he and the senior leadership team have made a number of campus improvements, strengthened fundraising efforts, restructured academic areas to increase student completion, established partnerships to help transfer students and increase internship and study away opportunities, and they are working to build programs that will assure Ferrum College students will be ready for meaningful work and a purposeful life.
According to Johns: “Colleges that are mission focused, church-related, and grounded in the liberal arts, have always been important; but today, they are essential. Our nation is experiencing a time marked by divisiveness, abrasive and even violent discourse, distrust of learning, alienation across the political spectrum, and cynicism about the institutions of a democratic society. In the present context, women and men who embody integrity, curiosity, civility, and who invest their lives in healing the world, have the future of freedom in their hands.”
PhD, Duquesne University, 1999
MLS, Kent State University, 1993
MA, Earlham School of Religion, 1989
BA, Malone University, 1985