Asking where Oklahoma Christian would be without J. Terry Johnson is much like asking where the Dallas Cowboys would be without Roger Staubach. It is impossible to speak of the Cowboys’ glory years without reminiscing about Staubach’s heroics. It is equally impossible to think of Oklahoma Christian University without the heroics of J. Terry Johnson.
As “quarterback” for Oklahoma Christian University for more than 21 years, Terry Johnson guided the institution through its advancement to university status and led it to unprecedented growth in the areas of campus development, student enrollment and institutional endowment.
During his first decade as president, construction and renovation projects included the Reba Davisson Residence Hall, Gaylord Student Activity Center, Phases II and III of the campus apartments, Harvey Business Center. and Payne Natatorium. The financial growth during this time was overwhelming. Fueled by strong enrollments and bold fundraising efforts, the endowment skyrocketed from slightly more than $1.5 million in 1975 to more than $8.8 million in 1979. This dramatic growth gave Oklahoma Christian the resources to realize even bigger dreams during the 1980s.
Johnson’s second decade of leadership was marked by the successful $50 million “With Wings As Eagles” campaign in 1985, the launching of the engineering program, the beginning of the Vienna Studies program and the addition of the master’s degree in ministry. New buildings added to the campus during that time included the Biblical Studies Building, Thelma Gaylord Forum, Prince Engineering Center and Enterprise Square USA. When the university celebrated its 50-year anniversary, the endowment stood at nearly $30 million, largely due to Dr. Johnson’s efforts.
In January 1996, Dr. Johnson handed over the presidential gavel to Dr. Kevin E. Jacobs and became the university’s fourth chancellor. After 21 years as Oklahoma Christian’s “quarterback,” Dr. J. Terry Johnson now serves the university he built as a wise “coach.”