Meet Chris Johnsen, P&S Council president


Chris Johnsen is the P&S Council president for 2020-21. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

What are the priorities for your presidency?

Position: Manager of extension store and distribution center, ISU Extension and Outreach
Years at ISU: 17
Contact: 294-5247,

My priorities align with our strategic initiatives. There are some initiatives that have carried over. We're getting there on meaningful supervisor training, but we're obviously not done. We feel that's really important and will aid in retention, recruitment and overall employee satisfaction. You look outside the university, and surveys say one of the No. 1 reasons people leave their jobs is their supervisor. Another priority is having the university prioritize annual performance raises in the budget model. We saw a glimmer of that with a 2.1% increase this summer and a discretionary increase yet to be applied. That should not be something that just comes when there's a surplus. It needs to be allocated and accounted for. Those who are performing well should receive raises every year.

Why did you choose to lead during this time?

People have been asking me to run for a couple years, but I was still coming off grad school and needed to let my foot off the gas a little bit. When I decided it was the right time for me, I did not know that I would be coming in as president-elect during the start of the pandemic. If I revisited that decision a year and a half ago knowing what I know now, I'd don't know if I would run. But I saw the great leadership from Sara Parris as she navigated the council presidency during the pandemic, and I hope to do as well as she did.

How do you view having the council meetings back in person?

I'm excited, yet cautious. Seeing people in the Memorial Union, you get a better sense of the breadth of knowledge and information that is represented in our council members. We're cautious because we might not be able to do it the entire year. We don't know what's coming. But it's great to be back together. We've had enough of Webex. In-person meetings encourage engagement during the meeting and that collegiality among council members before and after the meetings.

What's one thing you wish professional and scientific staff understood better?

That we're here as your advocate. If you don't know who represents you on council, the council website has that information available at your fingertips. That can be in a division, like academic affairs or student affairs, or more granular, like who represents you from, say, the College of Business or ISU Extension and Outreach. If you have concerns, reach out to your councilors. We may not be able to move a mountain, but we are here to be your advocate. Like with our strategic initiatives, you might not see immediate action or change. But this is a way for your voice to be amplified in the meaningful way of shared governance.

Who is someone you admire and why?

As I look around my office and see Cyclones memorabilia and Hall of Fame athletes, there is one theme for those individuals and their pursuit to get where they did. They were all relentless. There also is one individual not related to sports: Steve Jobs. I admire him beyond the small rectangular piece of equipment that is never far from reach and sometimes actually used for phone calls. I admire him for his ability to "think different." For his relentless desire for innovation. For his own admiration for people who change things, seeing their genius and desire to push the human race forward. To quote Steve, "The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."