Now that Interim President Joe Johnson's successor has been chosen he is looking forward to retirement, again.
Johnson served as acting president for more than six months before becoming president in June 1991.
He retired for the first time in 1999 and accepted a position as president emeritus.
Following the resignation of former President John W. Shumaker last year, Johnson was asked to return as interim president.
"I felt it was an honor coming back," Johnson said.
He came to the university as a graduate student in 1956 and said he fell in love with the lakes, mountains and people.
Over the past year his goal was to remind those same people that despite adverse publicity, the university was doing well, he said.
"There was a lot of angst in the legislature and a lot of media attention," Johnson said. "I wanted to settle things down."
The university is enrolling more qualified freshman, the faculty is conducting more advanced research and donors are making greater financial commitments, he said.
Johnson's said his first UT presidential search experience was very different from the one that has brought John Petersen to UT.
"It was not an elongated process as this one (was)," Johnson said.
Before selecting Johnson as president in 1991, the board interviewed four or five applicants, he said. The decision was made shortly after the interviews.
This year's selection process involved 47 applicants and multiple rounds of interviews. The committee visited candidate's homes and talked to their friends and colleagues, Johnson said.
"I commend the Board for taking this approach," he said.
All applicants were in positions that require a passion for higher education, Johnson said. "They wouldn't do what they are doing unless they had passion," he said.
(The new president) will continue to exude that passion, Johnson said.
"When you're president you really have to work to be engaged in some meaningful fashion with students. I hope that I will have some in my upcoming second retirement."
In addition to maintaining his position as president emeritus, Johnson looks forward to a more intimate involvement with community organizations including the Boy Scouts and Knoxville Promise.
"I don't want to be too far from UT," he said.
Published: Thu Apr 22, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:06 p.m.