Dr. Tonja Johnson serves as Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for the University of Alabama System (UAS) and is the primary system liaison to academic, student, institutional research and planning, and diversity and inclusion officials at UA, UAB, and UAH. She also advises the Chancellor on academic and student policy matters and provides primary leadership in program planning, implementation, and review. Additionally, she has a graduate faculty appointment within the University of Alabama College of Education and serves as the System’s liaison with the Alabama departments of Education and Postsecondary Education and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.
Prior to joining the UAS leadership team, Dr. Johnson served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the University of Tennessee System, based in Knoxville. Over the course of her tenure, she had executive oversight of several system-level offices and processes, including Academic Affairs and Student Success, Institutional Research, Human Resources, Facilities Planning and Capital Projects, Communications and Marketing, Enterprise Risk Management, Strategic Planning, and system-wide diversity and inclusive excellence initiatives. Having served as a cabinet-level administrator for nearly 20 years, Dr. Johnson has also held administrative and faculty appointments at a diverse set of other institutions, including the State University of New York at Stony Brook, an internationally recognized research university with AAU membership, located on the north shore of Long Island; Middle Tennessee State University, a comprehensive 4-year public institution in Murfreesboro, TN; and Mississippi Valley State University, a public 4-year historically black university, located in the Mississippi Delta.
Dr. Johnson began her college career at the University of Alabama in the summer of 1987 as a New York Times Scholar. She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UA in mass communication in 1991 and 1996, respectively. In 2006, she earned a Ph.D., in urban higher education from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, where she was an Ayers Fellow in the Jake Ayers Institute for Urban Research. Additionally, she completed the Institute for Education Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2008 and earned post-baccalaureate certification in construction management from Louisiana State University in 2017.
Over her career, Dr. Johnson has maintained a very active volunteer and public speaking schedule. A 20-year charter member of the University of Alabama Library Leadership Board and former Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Commissioner, Dr. Johnson currently serves as a member of the international Board of Trustees for CASE, where she is Chair of the Audit and Enterprise Risk Committee and a member of the Leadership & Governance and Gift Acceptance committees. She was also recently appointed to the Alabama Productivity Center Advisory Board at the University of Alabama. Prior to her return to Alabama in 2019, she served as a member of the Executive Board and Vice President of ScoutReach for the Great Smoky Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine Board of Visitors and the Board of Directors for the Historic Tennessee Theatre, the official State Theatre of Tennessee.
A proud native of Butler, Alabama (Choctaw County), she and her husband, Tony, live in Tuscaloosa and have a daughter, T’Anna Gabrielle, who is a sophomore at The American University of Paris in France.