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C of O hires new president

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College of the Ozarks hired a higher education veteran to succeed longtime President Jerry C. Davis.

Brad Johnson, who has worked since 2012 as vice president for institutional advancement at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, is scheduled to start June 1 at C of O in Point Lookout, according to a news release. Davis, the school's president for 34 years, is slated to become its chancellor at that date, as previously announced.

“Laura and I are grateful to God for this wonderful opportunity and are delighted to join the C of O family and roll up our sleeves at Hard Work U.,” Johnson said in the release, referencing his wife. “I am deeply grateful to the board of trustees for their confidence in me and am extraordinarily thankful to Dr. Davis for his leadership and immeasurable legacy at this outstanding institution.”

Davis late last year signaled plans to transition to the chancellor role. As chancellor, he'll focus on fundraising work.

At SBU, Johnson served as interim president between the administrations of Rick Melson and Eric Turner.

Before working at SBU, Johnson had administrative roles at McMurry University, Hardin-Simmons University and Howard Payne University, all in Texas, according to the release. At SBU and Howard Payne University, he raised more than $57 million in cash gifts and managed some $41 million in estate gifts.

C of O launched an internal search committee – along with job advertisement placements – for a nationwide recruitment effort to fill the president role, according to past reporting.

During Davis' tenure, C of O has conducted more than $50 million worth of construction, boosted the college's Hard Work U. focus on student workers and remained debt free, school officials have said.


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