• Kenneth Oscar Johnson
  • Johnson School of Business Benefactor 

    Kenneth Oscar Johnson was a distinguished chemical engineer, respected petroleum industry executive and a venture capitalist who helped small companies succeed. To honor his legacy of professional excellence, entrepreneurial ingenuity and generous support of Hodges University’s educational mission, the university renamed its School of Business to the Johnson School of Business at Hodges University in 2006.

    Johnson commented on how honored he was to have his name associated with Hodges University. He observed, “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.”

    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 his younger sister. He worked his way through the University of Minnesota, earning a Bachelor of Science 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 that 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 doubled annually 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 Hodges University to honor his deceased wife of 58 years, Margery Johnson.

    Johnson always stressed the importance of integrity, character and reputation. He often spoke of 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. Until his passing on October 15, 2008, Johnson resided in Naples, Florida; Durango, Colorado; and Houston, Texas, where his son, Eric, and two grandchildren also live.

  • Featured Program

    With a bachelor's degree in finance from Hodges University, you'll develop the analytical skills and knowledge you need in the growing and lucrative business field.

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