ANDERSON — Ivy Tech Community College has named Mia Johnson, who has served in the interim position since July, the permanent chancellor of the Anderson campus.

“Dr. Johnson is the quintessential chancellor,” Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann said in a prepared statement. “She was an Ivy Tech student and graduate, has served in a number of roles at the college, and has progressively grown as an academic and leader over 12 years. During her time as the Interim Chancellor, she demonstrated her commitment, engagement, and leadership ability with the Anderson campus and community. We welcome her to the full rank of Chancellor.”

A native of Muncie, Johnson, 40, has a background in psychology and leadership. She replaces James Willey, who retired in June.

Johnson, who began her Ivy Tech career as a testing associate in the East Central region that includes Anderson, said she looks forward to making more person-to-person connections with students, staff and community leaders that will help her hone her vision for the campus.

“Coming into this in the middle of a pandemic has made things more difficult,” she said. “I really want to hear what the community thinks we need.”

The campus still remains largely virtual, though most students have the option to attend in-person, do hybrid courses partially in person and partially online, or fully virtual, Johnson said. Some coursework, especially in fields like welding and health care professions that require practice.

In fact, she said, Ivy Tech officials are aware of the urgency of preparing health care personnel to help with the pandemic.

“Our hospitals, our facilities need these students to graduate,” she said. “We want to make sure Ivy Tech does their part to reduce the spread of COVID in our community.”

The flexibility of the Learn Anywhere program already was in development to accommodate single parents, many of whom find themselves unexpectedly having to remain home to teach their students as K-12 schools move online and off throughout the pandemic.

“This is kind of the best of any world,” she said. “The beauty of this you can change this week to week.”

The pandemic isn’t stopping Johnson from looking toward the future in other ways. She already has developed a partial vision for her first 100 days that includes one-on-one campus listen-and-learn sessions, team building and establishing accountability. Her longer term plans include having every high school student in the area graduate with an Ivy Tech certification and start middle school students thinking about what career directions they might want to take.

“I don’t expect them to choose and settle on something, but I would like them to at least start thinking about it,” she said. “I want to get Ivy Tech on their mind.”

The appointment makes Johnson the only Black female chancellor in Ivy Tech’s statewide system. It also makes her the only woman and only Black person to lead a college campus in Anderson and Madison County.

“I am used to being the only person who looks like me in my position,” she said.

In fact, Johnson said, she never had a Black teacher until she was a senior in college in North Carolina. And because she was a nontraditional student, she was 26 years old then.

But while she advocates for policies and procedures that don’t disenfranchise Black people and women, Johnson said she is committed to meeting the needs of all students regardless of their backgrounds.

“Any policy we put in place that helps one group will help another,” she said. “Helping a group that hasn’t been served well in the past helps everyone gets stronger.”

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB,

or call 765-640-4883.

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