Dr. Alex Johnson is Provost Emeritus, he retired from the Institute in July, 2022. As the provost he served as the chief academic officer, having responsibility for all of the academic programs, the faculty, and the students at the Institute. 

He was also a Professor in the MGH Institute Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and on the faculty of the Harvard-MIT Program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology.

Dr. Johnson, originally from Ohio, completed his BS and Master’s degrees at Kent State University; and his PhD in Speech-Language Pathology at Case Western Reserve University.

After working clinically for several years, Johnson served as Executive Director of the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center, a university-affiliated comprehensive center at Case Western Reserve.    

In 1988, he was appointed to launch a new division of speech-language pathology in the Department of Neurology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Michigan. There Johnson started the clinical program that grew to a staff of 14 speech-language pathologists, developed a post-graduate specialty fellowship, and established a collaborative research program that continues today. He established several subspecialty clinics in Voice Disorders, Stuttering, Pediatric Communication Disorders, Swallowing Disorders, and Stroke rehabilitation.

His funded research, while at Henry Ford, including studies of communication changes that occurred in the earliest moments after a stroke as predictors of both language and brain recovery. He also participated in the validation of a number of outcomes measures that are now used as qualifiers for payment for speech and language rehabilitation and was a co-investigator on the development of the Voice Handicap Index, a widely used tool in measuring recovery in persons with voice disorders, the Dysphagia Handicap Index, and the Communication Quality Scale.

In 1999, Johnson re-entered academia when he was appointed of Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Wayne State University in Detroit. During his tenure at Wayne State the PhD program was expanded, a new Doctor of Audiology program was established, the speech-language pathology enrollment increased, and the program was relocated to new facilities.    

In 2008, Johnson was appointed by President Janis Bellack to join her as the first academic provost at the Institute of Health Professions.   

In 2006, Johnson served as President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association with a membership of over 130,000 speech-language pathologists and audiologists. He is a Fellow of ASHA and has received the Honors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2013) which is the highest honor that the Association can bestow to “recognize individuals whose contributions have been of such excellence that they have enhanced or altered the course of the Professions.”  

Johnson is the co-editor of two textbooks and numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters. Johnson has continuing clinical and scholarly interests in medical speech-language pathology and the effects of communication and swallowing impairment of quality of health and life. His interests also include a newer focus on teaching and scholarly enterprise in higher education, as well as interprofessional education in health science.

  • BS, Speech and Hearing, Kent State University
  • MA, Speech Pathology, Kent State University
  • PhD, Speech-Language Pathology, Case Western Reserve University

Research Interests

Medical speech-language pathology and the effects of communication and swallowing impairment of quality of health and life; teaching and scholarly enterprise in higher education; interprofessional education in the health sciences.

Selected Publications

Johnson AF and Jacobson BH (Editors). Medical Speech-Language Pathology: A Practitioner’s Guide. 3rd Edition. New York: Thieme Medical Publishers (2016).

Johnson AF, Prelock P, Apel K., IPE 101: Introduction to interprofessional education and practice for speech-language pathology. In AF Johnson (Editor). Rockville, MD: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2016).

Cahn, P.S., Tuck, I., Knab, M.S., Doherty, R.F., Portney, L.G., & Johnson, A.F. (2018). Competent in any context: An integrated model of interprofessional educationJournal of Interprofessional Carehttps://doi.org/10.1080/13561820.2018.1500454

Portney, L., Johnson, A.F., Knab, M. (2017) Preparing Future Health Professionals for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Part 1: The Context for Learning. Seminars in Speech and Language, 38(5):335-341. doi: 10.1055/s-0037-1607344 

Cahn P, Bzowcky, Collins L, Goodell K, Johnson AF, Klocko D, Knab M, Park K, Reeves S., Zierler B. A design thinking approach to evaluating interprofessional educationJournal of Interprofessional Care. 2016. March 30 (1-3).

Law BM, Johnson AF. Can you grow your own? The ASHA Leader. January 2015, 20, 48-50.

Silbergleit AK, Schultz L, Jacobson BH, Beardsley T, Johnson AF. The Dysphagia handicap index: development and validation. Dysphagia( 2012). 27 (1): 46-52. 

Johnson AF, Pietranton AA. Challenges for professional practice in the next decade. Seminars in Speech and Language 27:129-140 (2006).

Bowman, M., Barnett, D., Johnson. A., & Reeve, K. Language, School Functioning, and Behavior Among African American Urban Kindergartners. Merrill Palmer Quarterly, 52, 2, 46-48 (2006).

Johnson AF, Competency in service delivery for patients with dysphagia. Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia). 13, 2, June 2004.

PubMed listing of 17 Johnson publications, with abstracts.

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