Dr. Michelle Johnston

Dr. Michelle Johnston currently serves as the 22nd President of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College (Rio), a position that she has held since 2014. During her tenure at Rio, the institution has been identified as one of only two colleges in the state that has seen positive gains in the student persistence and completion data recognized by the performance-based finding model instituted under Governor John Kasich’s administration. Rio has expanded its footprint beyond existing facilities in Gallia, Meigs, and Vinton counties to include the opening of a center in Jackson County in 2015. Recent campus enhancements include upgraded classroom technology, renovations to residence halls, construction of a multi-disciplinary simulation center, and upgrades to athletic facilities, as well as the introduction of new academic programs and support services.

Her career in higher education has included 10 years of service as a faculty member and over 20 years in administration. Dr. Johnston holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama, a master’s degree from Louisiana State University, a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Mississippi State University, and a post-doctorate in Marketing and Management from the University of Florida.

Dr. Johnston remains active in professional, higher education organizations. She was appointed by the US Secretary of Defense to the Marine Corps University Board of Visitors (Quantico, VA), where she serves as the Chair, and she holds membership on the Board for the Welsh Heritage Museum. In 2015, Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey selected Dr. Johnston to lead the advisory group for developing and implementing the state’s Changing Campus Culture initiative, which is focused on prevention and response to campus sexual violence. In 2016, Dr. Johnston was selected by Ohio Governor John Kasich for membership in the Association of Ohio Commodores. In 2017, she served at the request of Senator Sherrod Brown on the planning committee for his annual Presidents Conference held in Washington, D.C. She is active as a presenter and spokesperson in local, state, regional, national, and international settings, including legislative hearings, professional organization meetings, and civic club and community events.