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Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
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For immediate use Aug. 23, 1999 – No. 502

Johnson named William Rand Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor

Kenan-Flagler Business School

CHAPEL HILL – Dr. James H. Johnson Jr., a management professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, has been named a William Rand Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor.

The appointment, effective July 1, was approved by the UNC-CH Board of Trustees.

Johnson, also director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, joins a prominent list of 24 faculty scholars at UNC-CH along with others on 55 campuses nationwide who hold William Rand Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professorships.

The William Rand Kenan Jr. Professorships, the largest group of professorships bearing the Kenan name, were established in 1965 by a bequest from William R. Kenan Jr. The endowment began with a gift of $5 million; today that fund’s value exceeds $26 million.

Born in Wilmington in 1872, William R. Kenan Jr. received a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry from UNC in 1894. An outstanding student, Kenan became an internationally known chemical and engineering adviser who participated in the discovery of calcium carbide and its use in the production of acetylene gas.

Kenan valued a quality education as one of life’s most precious gifts, said Thomas S. Kenan III, a trustee of the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust.

"In his last will and testament, William R. Kenan Jr. stated that education was the most cherished gift a person could receive," Kenan said. "He also stated in his autobiography that his life was greatly shaped by the great professors who taught him. He wanted the trust to focus on helping universities attract the best and finest teachers obtainable. Jim Johnson meets his criteria in every respect."

Johnson said he was honored to be named a William Rand Kenan Jr. professor.

"The William Rand Kenan Jr. professorships are known worldwide. I consider this a great privilege," he said. "The professorships have been credited with attracting and retaining outstanding faculty members for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and adding substantially to the high academic standing of the university in the world today."

Johnson launched the Urban Investment Strategies Center in 1996. It aims to revitalize economically distressed communities and to enhance the quality of life and employment prospects of the people within those communities, especially their young. The center’s goal is to become a prototype for university-urban, community-private sector partnerships that are vital to sparking urban reinvestment.

Under the Urban Investment Strategies Center umbrella, Johnson oversees the Durham Scholars Program, a Kenan Charitable Trust-funded youth initiative, which is designed to foster college access and matriculation among disadvantaged youth; Triangle Night Flight, a midnight basketball league that seeks to reconnect idle minority males to mainstream educational and employment opportunities; and the Urban Enterprise Corps, which recruits newly minted MBAs from the top 30 business schools to provide managerial and technical assistance to underperforming minority and women-owned businesses. Johnson also co-directs the Management Academy for Public Health, a joint venture between the Kenan-Flagler Business School and the UNC-CH School of Public Health, which provides training in core business competencies to state and local public health officials in four states.

Johnson is an expert in entrepreneurship, diversity, urban economics, venture financing and welfare reform issues. He received a bachelor’s of science degree from N.C. Central University in 1975, a master’s of science degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1977 and a doctoral degree from Michigan State University in 1980.


Note:   A photograph of Johnson is available. Please contact campus photographer Dan Sears at 919-962-8592.

Kenan-Flagler contact: Kim Weaver Spurr, (919) 962-8951,