Faces: Joe Johnston

Thursday, November 18, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Joe Johnston is a man divided. As half professor of counseling, half director of MU’s Career Center in the Student Success Center, his “lifetime commitment to making students into service providers” seems to take up much of his time.

The Student Success Center, on Lowry Mall, is dedicated to helping students create and accomplish personal and academic goals. But when given time to himself, the 68-year-old father of four likes to return to more peaceful surroundings — the small, 2½ -acre plot south of town that is his home.

“Anything that’s outdoors is my renewal,” said Johnston, a Michigan native. This includes things as basic as mowing the lawn or even trimming the trees.

Johnston is also an avid reader.

“I probably have half a dozen books going at a time,” he said.

What does Johnston read? Biographies, novels and, right now, books on entrepreneurship. One could say he’s doing research.

This research is preparing Johnston’s teaching half for “Catching the Entrepreneurial Spirit,” a class he will teach next semester at MU.

In the meantime, however, Johnston is working to make the Student Success Center the “one-stop shop” for student needs that he thinks it can be. He said he understands the position of many students who come to the center because he, too, was an undecided student unaware of what he would do in the future.

He’s happy to help them because they, in turn, help him.

“They keep you young,” he said.

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