SUNY Potsdam Alumni Honor David E. Johnson '77 with Distinguished Service Award


From left, SUNY Potsdam President Kristin Esterberg, 2014 Distinguished Service Award recipient David Johnson and Alumni Association President Jeffrey Washburn.

The SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association recently honored David E. Johnson, a member of the Class of 1977, with the 2014 Distinguished Service Award at the College's annual Reunion Weekend.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to an alumna or alumnus who has made exceptional contributions to the Alumni Association and/or the College.

Johnson was honored for his deep, abiding love for SUNY Potsdam, including 17 years of service as a Foundation Board trustee, as well his service to our country.

David Johnson's leadership, integrity, dedication, and generosity exemplify the qualities of SUNY Potsdam graduates. He studied vocal music education at Potsdam and was active on campus as a member of Delta Kappa Theta Fraternity, a disk jockey for the WRPS radio station, a member of the rock band Sceptre, a residence hall director, and a member of various Crane performing groups. He earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree in music education from The Crane School of Music. Johnson later went on to earn a Master of Education degree from South Dakota State University, and a doctorate in education from Indiana University-Bloomington. He is a lifelong educator, having worked as a teacher, adjunct professor, educational assessment and program evaluation expert, and educational administrator, in New York, Indiana, Texas and Arizona.

Along with being an educator, Johnson is also a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Colonel; he proudly served our country as an active duty member and Reservist for almost 35 years of total military service. He served in diverse critical settings and capacities during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Johnson's personal mission is to ensure Pre-K to university educational opportunities are available to today's learners, as they were for him. Thus, he has helped SUNY Potsdam students achieve their educational goals through donations to a variety of programs, including the Yonkers Program, the Nannie Zelle Johnson Memorial Scholarship and the Class of 1977 Scholarship. In 2010, he was the featured speaker for the College's Master's Commencement Ceremony.

Johnson was appointed to the Potsdam College Foundation Board of Trustees in 1997, and later served as vice president and chair of the Development Committee. During his tenure on the board, he has shared his strategic planning, institutional advancement and data analysis expertise, in planning and executing three successful comprehensive campaigns, including the current Take the Lead Campaign.

To find out more about SUNY Potsdam's committed alumni, visit

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America's first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,300 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts. Empowered by a culture of creativity, the campus community recently launched Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam, which aims to raise $27 million by the College's bicentennial in 2016.