UA Little Rock’s Michael Johnson strives to make an impact

June 4-10, 2018

By Becca Bona


Life has a way of coming full circle, and no one knows that better that UA Little Rock’s Michael Johnson. Director of Development and External Relations within the College of Education and Health Professions (CEHP), Johnson is a graduate of the university himself.


Working at his alma mater means a lot to him, as he says, “This is like coming home for me.”


Although born in California, Johnson moved to the Natural State at such a young age, that he claims it as his own.


When he first got to college, he wanted to be on camera. “I wanted to be the next Stuart Scott at SportsCenter,” he says, laughing. “I wanted to be more on the news side, but ultimately decided not to pursue that career.”


A mass communications major with a focus on radio, television and film, Johnson moved to Virginia after graduating. He worked various jobs before he landed a radio advertising position with Clear Channel Radio in Norfolk.


After about a year or so, he and his wife were ready to start a family, and wanted to move back to Central Arkansas. Johnson was able to obtain a job with Fox 16, which was owned by Clear Channel Television, at the time.


There, he worked for Holly Rose, who was also a graduate of UA Little Rock and very involved in the Alumni Association.


“Throughout her time at Fox 16, she always tried to get me to be a part of the association and […] for whatever reason I didn’t sign up to be a member,” he remembers. “I always wanted to, I just never did.”


As it turns out, Johnson would have plenty of time to get involved. He moved to THV 11 after eight years with Fox 16, and eventually to the Arkansas Business Publishing Group before the Alumni Association made its way back into his life.


“I saw Holly was recently hired as executive director of development, and I was curious about it,” says Johnson. After Holly reached out to him asking for leads to fill a new position, Johnson himself responded. He was hired and started his job with UA Little Rock on April 2.


And while development is, as Johnson says, “a whole new animal” for him to tackle, he’s found he enjoys it.


“I’m really excited about this – my end goal is thinking about the students. I want to make a difference in a young person’s life.”


By providing more funds for scholarships and support to the CEHP, Johnson will be able to do just that.


“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been into the business of helping people with their business through marketing campaigns and I really enjoyed doing that,” he says. “But this means a lot more to me to actually affect someone’s education.”


Part of the biggest challenge Johnson has faced so far is getting to know the CEHP. He is grateful for his dean, Dr. Ann Bain, as well as the supporting professors and staff within the institution, who help lead him along the way.


Johnson, who lives in Saline County, is amazed at the growth happening in Central Arkansas. Within that momentum, he hopes UA Little Rock will get the recognition it deserves.


“I would love for the perception to be that this is a tremendous university and a tremendous research facility. [UA Little Rock] has a lot to offer the city when it comes to economic development you need a strong higher education system.”


When not working, Johnson enjoys spending time with his three kids, as well as teaching a fitness class twice a week. 


  • Michael Johnson
    Michael Johnson