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Colorado School of Mines names ASU's Paul Johnson as 17th president

portrait of ASU dean Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, has been named the 17th president of the Colorado School of Mines. Under his leadership, the Fulton Schools have experienced increased enrollment and student success.
Photo by: Jessica Hochreiter

June 01, 2015

Paul C. Johnson, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, has been named as the 17th president of the Colorado School of Mines.

“During his years at the helm of the Fulton schools, Paul demonstrated the creativity, insight and global perspective, not just to accomplish the schools’ mission, but to accelerate and expand it, meeting the demands of the future,” said ASU Provost Robert E. Page Jr. “The leaders at the School of Mines made a smart choice, and Paul will be missed.”

Under Johnson’s leadership, the Fulton Schools established the “Fulton Difference,” which promotes learning beyond traditional coursework, nurtures entrepreneurs and relies on a strong peer-mentoring culture. It emphasizes the philosophy that students are to experience engineering from day one. The result has been increased enrollment and student success, which fueled growth of the faculty. The impact and number of students engaged in research and development activities also grew. In 2014 the Fulton Schools attracted $96 million in research grants and contracts and tripled its generation of inventions and start-ups over four years.

“It is an honor to be selected president of the Colorado School of Mines,” Johnson said. “I’m excited to have this opportunity and look forward to working with the Mines faculty, staff and students to create a student experience and environment for innovation that is unique to Mines, and to achieve its aspiration of being the nation’s premier engineering and applied-science university.”

Johnson became dean of Fulton Engineering in January 2011 after serving as executive dean for five years. He has earned praise for his wisdom, vision and drive as he has helped to elevate the stature of ASU’s nationally ranked engineering programs and grow Fulton Engineering into one of the nation’s largest engineering schools.

The School of Mines, in Golden, Colorado, is a highly selective public research university of 5,700 students, recognized for its education and research programs focused on stewardship of the earth and its resources, addressing society’s energy challenges, and fostering environmentally sound and sustainable solutions

“Paul Johnson brings a distinguished track record of teaching, research, public service and leadership,” said Jim Spaanstra, chair of the School of Mines board of trustees. “Throughout the search process it was clear that he understood Mines, its rich history, unique role and mission, and opportunities for enhancing its global distinction. We are confident the university will be in great hands to guide it as we seek to achieve our strategic aspirations.”

Johnson has been a member of the faculty at ASU since 1994, where he has also served as ASU’s associate vice president for research and the Fulton Schools’ associate dean for research. Before joining ASU he was a senior research engineer at the Shell Oil/Shell Chemical Westhollow Technology Center. 

Johnson is internationally recognized for his expertise in soil and groundwater remediation and risk assessment. Teaching, though, remains his passion. Johnson has received numerous outstanding educator awards and was twice selected the top teacher in the Fulton Schools. Colorado School of Mines’ emphasis on both teaching and research was a key attraction for him.

“Every institution that I have chosen to be a part of has emphasized the importance of both teaching and research,” Johnson said. “I have taught almost every semester during my 21 years as a university faculty member and administrator and will continue that at Mines.”

Johnson is the co-author of 12 U.S. patents and has received awards recognizing the impact of his research and contributions to the groundwater profession, including the National Ground Water Association’s Keith E. Anderson Award (2010) and the Lifetime Award in Remediation sponsored by Brown and Caldwell (2014). His research group has received Project of the Year Awards from both the Environmental Security Technology Certification and the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Programs, which are given by the U.S. Department of Defense in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of California-Davis, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from Princeton University.