President Milone-Nuzzo Announces Provost Johnson's Retirement

May 10, 2021
This message is from IHP President Paula Milone-Nuzzo's desk


Provost Johnson has recently shared with me his decision to retire in a year, effective July 15, 2022. While I am excited for Alex to embark on the next chapter of his life, I will be sad to see him leave the Institute, a place he has called home for 13 years. Since 2008 when Alex became the Institute’s first provost, he has played a pivotal role in so many of the Institute’s achievements.

Alex and the school’s academic leaders launched a number of highly successful programs during the past 13 years, including the PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences, the PhD and Master of Science in Health Professions Education, Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Master of Physician Assistant Studies, Master of Science in Genetic Counseling, Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology, as well the Online Prerequisites for the Health Professions program. These programs, along with growth in existing IHP programs, have resulted in a near doubling of the Institute’s enrollment from 865 when Alex arrived to our current enrollment of 1,636.

Alex was a driving force behind the school’s dedicated research program that launched ten years ago. From identifying and recruiting top-flight researchers, to overseeing the construction of a research center, to tirelessly championing researcher accomplishments, the program’s success was due in large part to Alex’s vision and tenacity. At the start of this year, the Institute boasted eight dedicated research centers and labs for grant-funded scholars and 40 active grants totaling $20.8 million.

Alex also played a fundamental role in the vision the Institute has taken over the past decade—establishing two distinctive schools, the School of Nursing and the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, as well as the Center for Interprofessional Studies and Innovation. Furthermore, his commitment to interprofessional education has helped solidify this approach to education and care as a hallmark of the Institute, and it is now woven into the fabric of everything we do. And no one in the local community misses this point when all of our first-year students fan across Charlestown and Greater Boston during the now annual Community IMPACT Day. Of particular note is the extraordinary role Alex played in the creation of the IMPACT Practice Center, which opened in 2017. The center provides a myriad of learning opportunities for our students and over a million dollars annually in free services to the community.

Two of Alex’s most significant contributions to the Institute came over the past eighteen months. It was then he began the process of creating a vision for a transformed education model at the IHP and increasing our enrollment to 2,000 students. Led by Alex, the Steering Committee for this initiative developed the ENRiCH growth model which will forever change the structure and process of education at the IHP.

While he was leading this initiative, COVID arrived. Alex created the CART (Coronavirus Academic Response Team) structure and led the charge to pivot all classes to online format last spring to meet the many challenges of the pandemic. During the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters, Alex and his faculty colleagues adapted instruction to a hybrid approach. All of this planning and work were a key reason why the overwhelming majority of our amazing students were able to graduate on time. He is now leading the process of bringing our academic programs back to campus.  

During his time at the Institute, Alex has continued to contribute to his professional discipline, playing an active role in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), representing the discipline where he began his career as a health professional.

Alex’s contributions to the Institute are many, and what I have shared above only scratches the surface of his numerous contributions to the growth and well-being of the Institute. His legacy at the IHP will live on in the many people he touched and the many initiatives he led. We will formally recognize Alex next spring, but in the meantime, please join me in thanking Alex for his many contributions to the IHP.