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Spotlight: Johnson Receives Honorary Degree

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Spotlight: Johnson Receives Honorary Degree

Date Published:
Friday, May 16, 2014

Gene Johnson, a 1973 graduate of UNC Charlotte and the first alumnus to serve as chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, received an honorary Doctor of Public Service during the Friday, May 9 commencement ceremony.

Johnson, who completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Belk College of Business, has held a number of influential roles at the University. He was Alumni Board president, and he served on the 49er Athletic Foundation Board, the Board of Visitors and the Belk College of Business Advisory Council. Most recently, he finished eight years on the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees, the last three years as chair. During his time as a trustee, Johnson chaired the Football Fundraising Capital Campaign.

As a philanthropist, Johnson provided financial support to construct the Barnhardt Student Activity Center and the Harris Alumni Center. He also established the Johnson Endowment for Teaching. In addition, Johnson was the driving force behind the establishment of a drum line to support the University’s football program, and he committed to lead fundraising efforts to establish a marching band for fall 2015.

Following graduation, Johnson joined the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of captain. After his discharge, he began a successful career as a certified public accountant with Haskins and Sells, a predecessor to Deloitte and Touche. He went on to head the Mergers and Acquisitions Group of Cable Investments Inc., and he also owned a cable television construction and engineering firm and served as chief operating officer of Enstar Cable Corp. He then became president of JC&A Inc., an investment banking and brokerage firm providing services to cable television, telephone and related industries. In 1991, he co-founded MJD Communications Inc., a provider of communications services that later became FairPoint Communications. During his tenure at FairPoint, Johnson also led corporate development efforts and served as executive vice president. He retired as chairman and chief operating officer of FairPoint Communications in 2009.

Photo by Wade Bruton.