Kenneth Oscar Johnson School of Business Established at International College

Kenneth Oscar Johnson is a distinguished chemical engineer, respected petroleum industry executive and a venture capitalist who helps small companies succeed. To honor his legacy of professional excellence, entrepreneurial ingenuity and generous support of International College’s educational mission, the private and not-for-profit college is renaming its School of Business to the Kenneth Oscar Johnson School of Business at International College.

"I’m honored to have my name associated with International College," says Johnson. "I’ve watched this school grow over the years. The dedication with which its staff and faculty have worked to help people better their lives is important for families and the southwest Florida community."

The College’s administration expresses equally laudatory remarks for Johnson. College Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Dr. Louis Traina says, "The naming of a school is something that's never done too casually. This is an honor resulting from Kenneth Johnson’s professional reputation, his track record for success and most importantly, his personal and professional values. Our students are very fortunate to have a role model that embodies the type of qualities we encourage them to adopt."

Dr. Frederick Nerone, Founding Dean of the Kenneth Oscar Johnson School of Business, agrees while noting Johnson’s initiative and skills as a critical thinker, researcher and communicator.

"Students are required to prove mastery of these very core competencies prior to graduation from International College. I think students benefit from receiving instruction beyond the banner of Ken Johnson's good name, but his good example. The accomplishments of his life and career culminate into more than a textbook’s worth of meaningful lesson plans, but a moving treatise on human fortitude, focused energy and professional longevity. He represents a standard by which our students can gauge effectiveness, accountability, social responsibility and a range of ideals so essential to one’s achieving of success," says Nerone.

Johnson was raised in Minnesota. His father died when he was three, leaving his mother to raise him and a younger sister. He started developing his entrepreneurial skills early in life; selling his mother’s baked goods, maintaining a paper route, working on a farm and frequently fishing for the evening meal. Tragedy struck again when his mother died when he was 15 leaving Johnson to support himself and younger sister.

He worked his way through the University of Minnesota, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering.

He started his career with ESSO (known as Exxon Mobil today) in 1942 with a net worth of $32.

Johnson immediately worked to develop new high-octane fuels to power America’s fleet of fighter planes which emerged during World War II.

In addition to having several U.S. patents to his credit, Johnson’s 32-year career culminated with his rise to Manager of Wholesale Sales for Exxon.

In 1974, he became CEO of Florida-based Belcher Oil whose company earnings annually doubled under his leadership. Three years later he negotiated the sale of Belcher to Coastal Corporation where in addition to maintaining executive responsibilities, he served as a member of the parent Board of Directors.

Johnson has also served on other various boards of directors: Southeast Bank, New World Symphony, Florida State Chamber of Commerce and Citizens Board of the University of Miami.

In addition to his current endowment, Johnson has previously named state-of-the-art computer rooms at International College to honor his deceased wife of fifty-eight years, Margery Johnson.

Johnson currently resides in Naples, Florida, Durango, Colorado, and Houston, Texas, where his Son Eric and two grandchildren also live.

He is an avid hiker and bicyclist.

Johnson stresses the importance of integrity, character and reputation. He additionally mentions the art of negotiation, knowing how to deal with people and understanding differing global and cultural perspectives as essential to forging success in the world of business today.

Though also comprised today by Schools of Professional Studies, Health and Technology, Business studies were among the earliest offerings provided by International College when it began operation in 1990. As course offerings expanded, the College brought in additional faculty who not only possessed teaching experience, but real world expertise to complement lessons imparted in the classroom.

Business faculty members include:

Dr. Gene Landrum; a prolific author, national lecturer and famed co-founder of the Chuck E. Cheese franchise, Dr. Katherine Dew; an instructor honored by Governor Jeb Bush last year with the Florida Educator of the Year Award, Dr. Don Forrer; the MBA Program Director well know for authoring a weekly Naples Daily News column and as an advisor to the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), And Dr. Joe Heinzmann; a business administration instructor who also serves as President of the International College Chapter of Sigma Beta Delta, the International Honor Society in Business, Management and Administration.

Dr. Heinzmann and Dr. Forrer have been widely published for research of various economic impact assessments, free trade agreements, employee retention and beyond.

This same faculty also serves local executives who participate in annual sessions of The Leadership Institute, an executive management program facilitated through a partnership with International College, The Leadership Collier Foundation and The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.

While International College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Associate, Baccalaureate and Master level degrees, the Kenneth Oscar Johnson School of Business is also accredited by The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).

The IACBE, earlier this year, honored International College President Dr. Terry McMahan with their prestigious Education Leader of the Year Award.

Dr. McMahan credits the work of the faculty and students as the largest contributing factor to Ken Johnson’s endowment gift.

"The devotion of our faculty and the determination of our students make endowments like this possible. People are noticing the work coming out of our college and how it serves the community. This recognition has been critical to solidifying relationships with the caliber of professionals like Kenneth Johnson," says Dr. McMahan.

International College staff, faculty, students and supporters will be invited to attend a special reception with their business school’s namesake in November.

For more information about International College, phone 239-513-1122 or visit online at
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