Willamette Mourns Former University Leader

Bryan Johnston, former interim Willamette president and dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, passed away June 7 at his home in Salem. Willamette President M. Lee Pelton remembered Johnston in this letter to the University community.

Dear Willamette Community,

It is with profound sadness that I deliver to you the news that Willamette's very dear friend Bryan Johnston passed away in his sleep. Although the precise cause of death is not yet certain, it is believed to have been heart related. He was 59 years old.

Bryan approached his life and work with passion and vigor, humor and warmth. His enormous generosity of spirit, his razor-sharp wit and his infinite capacity to lead and inspire others were the hallmark of all he undertook as husband and father, college professor, Atkinson Dean, interim Willamette president, mediator, legislator, and the top administrator of some of the largest and most complex agencies in state government. Just a few weeks ago, Bryan had accepted the position of President of St. Martins College in Lacey, Washington, and was preparing to relocate there over the summer.

To the many people who knew Bryan through his mediation practice and his work in academia, politics and public policy, he was a respected and valued colleague. To hundreds more in the Willamette and Salem communities, he was a trusted and beloved friend. To his children, he was a wonderful and loving father, and to his wife Anne, he was husband, partner and best friend.

Our friend Bryan Johnston will be sorely missed. Please keep Bryan's wife Anne and his family in your thoughts and prayers.


President M. Lee Pelton, Willamette University

To share your memories of Johnston, learn about his memorial service or donate to the Bryan Johnston Scholarship Fund, please visit