Saint Martin’s University mourns loss of president-elect

Community keeping family of Bryan M. Johnston in prayers

June 7, 2008

Lacey, Washington — The Saint Martin’s University community learned today that Bryan M. Johnston, recently selected to become the University’s next president, has died. Johnston was to begin his tenure as Saint Martin’s ninth president next month.

 photo of Bryan M. Johnston

Johnston died suddenly overnight at his home in Salem, Oregon.

“We are deeply saddened by the news of Bryan’s death,” said Douglas M. Astolfi, Saint Martin’s current president. “More than a loss for the University community, this is a tragedy for Bryan’s family. Our prayers are with his wife and four children.”

“The students, staff, faculty and monks of Saint Martin’s were looking forward to Bryan’s leadership. Even though he had not yet formally joined our community, we had already welcomed him with great enthusiasm,” remarked Ken F. Parsons, Sr., chair of Saint Martin’s board of trustees. “In the short amount of time we knew him, he made a positive impression on us.”

Johnston was the interim head of the Children, Adults and Families Division in Oregon’s Department of Human Services. He accepted the position at Saint Martin’s in May and was to assume the presidency July 1. Johnston had held a variety of administrative positions in higher education, including a term as interim president of Willamette University, associate dean at Willamette College of Law and dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. He was a founding faculty member and director of Willamette College of Law’s Center for Dispute Resolution.

The University’s board of trustees has not made any announcements regarding its next steps for finding a new president. “We will stay strong as a community and move forward,” said Parsons, “but right now, our primary concern is for Bryan’s family and friends.”

“It is difficult to accept that the Lord had other plans for such a warm and wonderful person,” added Abbot Neal Roth, O.S.B., chancellor of Saint Martin’s University, “but at times like these we find strength in our faith.”

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 320-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its five extension campuses located at Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base, Olympic College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.

For additional information:

Jennifer G. Fellinger
Director of Communications
Saint Martin’s University