Q&A with Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson is president of the ISU Alumni Association.

What is your favorite memory of college?

Surviving the embarrassment of getting my head stuck in the banister spindles affixed to the top of a reception wall at our local iHop following a midnight movie with my girlfriend and some friends. I was a resident assistant and well-known on campus. This was not how I wanted to be remembered.

What is your favorite thing about Iowa State or Ames?

The people. I just love the people who make up our campus, communityand this state.

Where is your favorite place to eat in town?

Dublin Bay Irish Pub & Grill. The Irish Nachos rock.

How was your freshman year?

I spent my first year commuting back and forth to my junior college. I loved it though. I made some awesome friends and later ran for and won the Student Body President’s election.

What was the most embarrassing moment of your freshman year? Did you make any silly freshman mistakes?

Unknowingly hitting a dog with my car and not finding out until I arrived on campus. Bits of the dog were spotted in my car’s front grill.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Remember the real reason you are here. So go to class, do your homework, and then have fun. Do it in this order and you will be here long enough to graduate. That is ultimately what all of us want to see happen for each ISU student.

When did you know what you wanted to do with your life? When did it click, when did learning become fun?

Following the first semester of my junior year. I was on the school’s student admissions committee. This organization allowed me to give campus tours, talk to new families, and help incoming students with their schedules and the adjustments. One semester later, I was lucky to be asked by my university president to consider a career in higher education; the rest is history.  I’ve always loved learning, and I love reading. Learning is really something I continue to enjoy today.

How did you get where you are now in your career?

Simply put: Hard work. Your reputation really does matter, and people do pay attention to your attitude. But I also have been blessed to be surrounded by good people who have believed in my passion and appreciated my work.

Describe your job — what are your duties?

I am president and CEO of the ISU Alumni Association. In this role, I am responsible for working with campus colleagues, my staff, our board of directors and a number of volunteers to design and deliver programs and services that keep ISU alumni, students and friends connected to each other and involved in keeping Iowa State’s campus beautiful; faculty, staff, and students resourced; and programs relevant.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

The wonderful folks I get to meet and serve and the many creative ways my staff and I find to tell ISU and Iowa Staters’ stories.

What was your proudest accomplishment of the last year?

Getting the landscaping project underway at the new ISU Alumni Center. Like the building, the gardens around the center will showcase ISU history, traditions and artifacts.

What is your biggest goal for next year?

Involving a greater number of ISU students, alumni and friends in a lifetime relationship with Iowa State. The more folks we can get involved with ISU goals and priorities, the better we help make the university, this community, the state, our nation and the world.

What do you think is the biggest issue currently facing students? What can we do about it?

Finances. We need to partner with students to help them understand the real truth about budgeting, saving and spending. These are life skills. If they can learn to value these skills now, coupled with their solid Iowa State education, they will be set for life.

What are you most looking forward to in the next year?

Getting our budgets in order and doing my part to help the Cyclones win, win, win!

What are your must-do and must-see things for students?

Selfishly, every student needs to join the Student Alumni Association and make at least one visit to the ISU Alumni Center. This building is a must-see. Cost is only $30 to become Student Alumni Association and Cyclone Alley members. These programs are awesome because they have been built with student input and provide students with great discounts and new friendship opportunities.