KEARNEY – Former University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Gladys Styles Johnston of Scottsdale, Arizona, died Wednesday. She was 79.
Johnston was chancellor of UNK from 1993 to 2002.
“Dr. Johnston led UNK during a formative decade,” Chancellor Doug Kristensen said. “We are grateful for her efforts and accomplishments at UNK.”
Prior to becoming chancellor at UNK, Styles Johnston was executive vice president and provost at DePaul University in Chicago. Her higher education experience also included positions at Arizona State University, Rutgers University and American Association of State Colleges.
In 2008 she was appointed as assistant to the president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and director of the AASCU’s Millennium Leadership Initiative. That program was designed to assist academic administrators at the level of dean or higher who planned to seek presidency or chancellorship of a university. She led that project until 2015, connecting more than 500 emerging higher education leaders with mentors.
Through that program 85 graduates became first-time presidents or chancellors. The program further encouraged African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and women administrators to explore their career goals and support their advancement toward a college or university presidency.
Johnston served on several civic, educational, and commercial boards, including the Omaha Branch of Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, in which she chaired for three consecutive years. She served as board chair for the AASCU and was a member of the board of directors for the American Council of Educators.
Johnston also served on the board of the Higher Learning Commission and as a national advisor on the Kellogg Foundation’s National Fellowship Program. In 1992, she was selected by the YMCA of Chicago as an “Outstanding Educator” in the city. In 2012 she was selected one of “Arizona’s 48 Most Intriguing Women” in the field of higher education.
Johnston earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from Cheyney University, a master’s in educational administration from Temple and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. She also later served as a distinguished commonwealth visiting professor at the School of Education at the College of William & Mary and published two books and co-authored several research articles.
As UNK’s second chancellor, Johnston oversaw the establishment of the childcare center, projects to expand and renovate the Nebraskan Student Union, the beginning of the first online courses, and enrollment growth from joining the University of Nebraska system (1991).
She hosted the only visit to UNK by a sitting president when Bill Clinton visited campus in 2000. Funeral services are pending.