Brad Johnson Named WWU’s New Provost and Executive Vice President  

Western Washington University President Sabah Randhawa has announced that Brad Johnson will serve as the new provost and executive vice president for WWU effective Aug. 1.  

Johnson has served as the Dean of the College of Science & Engineering since 2017 and has been a professor of Physics at Western since 1997.   

“Brad is a friend and colleague to many in the Western community, and I am honored to be able to move him into the central role of leadership and oversight of the academic operations of the University,” said Randhawa. 

Prior to becoming Dean, Johnson was the associate dean of CSE for three years, and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Western for 13 years, overseeing a transformation that saw the establishment of focused research specialties in Astronomy, Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, and Physics Education Research.  Johnson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Physics from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and a doctorate in Physics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

Throughout his 25-year career, Johnson has been committed to academic excellence with 50 peer-reviewed publications in major journals, a commitment to mentoring undergraduate researchers, and he has taught almost every course in the Physics curriculum, from Introductory Physics and Astronomy to senior theory courses in Quantum Mechanics and Mathematical Methods.  He has developed significant curriculum at all levels and has had consistently strong student and peer evaluations. 

Johnson has long experience with shared governance including multi-term service on the WWU Faculty Senate and University Planning and Resource Council (UPRC), as well as recent experience serving on institutional strategic budget planning committees.   

“Brad’s career in numerical modeling and quantitative analysis, and his quest to understand the various components of our budget structure, accounting and implementation will serve him well in this new role,” said Randhawa. 

Johnson has also led significant progress in building a culture of philanthropy within CSE.  Working in collaboration with the WWU Foundation, the college has attracted roughly $2 million per year over the last five years, on top of his engagement in helping to secure the University’s largest-ever private gift of $10 million toward the construction of the new electrical engineering and computer science building.  He has worked with leadership from major regional industrial partners to establish both student pipelines as well as research partnerships and philanthropic gifts.   

Randhawa noted that Johnson has championed a college-wide Accessibility, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ADEI) integrated structure and lifted up ADEI work within the college, leading to increased professional development for faculty and staff focused on awareness, culture and climate analysis and change; identifying bias in policy and process; recruiting diverse candidates for faculty and staff positions; and community building. 

“Having earned the admiration of students and colleagues for his excellence as a teacher, researcher, department chair and dean, Brad is an ideal choice to succeed Provost Brent Carbajal, whom I thank again for his tremendous contributions to the University over his 26-year career at Western,” said Randhawa. “I also want to thank search committee co-chairs, Joyce Lopes and Brian Burton, and all the members of the committee for their care and insights in the process leading to this new appointment, and to members of our community for their active participation in the search process.” 

I am honored and humbled to be selected for this role at Western.

Johnson said he was excited about his new position and for the opportunities to advance Western’s mission moving forward. 

“I am honored and humbled to be selected for this role at Western. I would first like to express my sincere gratitude to my many staff and faculty colleagues in the College of Science and Engineering. I would not have the myriad positive experiences that I have had over the past eight years in the Dean’s office without their time and talents; they have been an extraordinary group to work with,” said Johnson. “I would also like to say a heartfelt thank you to Provost Carbajal and to Associate Provost Burton, for their collaboration and guidance, and for their remarkable service to the institution.  I look forward to working with President Randhawa and the broader community, both on campus and off, to foster and further a shared vision of Western’s next chapter.” 

Carbajal expressed his support for the choice of Johnson as the new provost. 

“During his tenure as Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, Brad Johnson has been an effective, innovative, and thoughtful leader at many levels of governance.  I have appreciated his engagement in the Council of Deans, his work on many important university initiatives, and his commitment to student access and success,” said Carbajal. “I’m excited for Western as Brad moves into this new leadership position as provost, and I’m pleased for Brad since I know he will value working with all the Western constituents and communities.”  

The University will name an interim dean for the College of Science & Engineering for the 2022-23 academic year and commence a nationwide search for a permanent appointment in Fall 2023.