ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) has announced Dr. Robert W. Johnson (right) of Greenville College as the recipient of the 2011 Lee McKinney Distinguished Service Award. Johnson is currently a professor of health, physical education and recreation at Greenville and also serves as an assistant coach for the Panthers' men's soccer team and men's and women's track and field.
During Johnson's career as a member of the Greenville College faculty, he has consistently displayed balance in his service to the academic and athletic arenas. He has served as chair of the health, physical education and recreation department, taught a variety of classes within the same department, advised students majoring in physical education and recreation, and served as either a head coach or assistant coach for six of Greenville's 14 sports. Johnson has also been actively involved with numerous committees at the College, including Faculty Council, Faculty Evaluation Committee, Safety Committee, NCA Review Steering Committee, Teacher Education Committee, Values Committee and Retention Committee.
Johnson began his affiliation with Greenville in 1964 as a student-athlete in both men's soccer and track and field. As a Panther, he was a member of three Conference championships (two in soccer and one in track and field) as a part of the Prairie College Conference. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Physical Education in 1968 and then went on to serve as a United States Army medic in Vietnam. After overcoming a severe injury to his right leg during the war, which also earned him the U.S. Army Commendation Medal for Heroism, Johnson completed his military duty and went on to earn a master's in education from Texas Tech University and a doctorate of philosophy in physical education from the University of Iowa. Johnson also earned a professional training and development certificate from the University of Minnesota in vocational and technical education.
Almost 20 years after earning his undergraduate degree from Greenville, Johnson returned as a faculty member and also served as head coach of the men's and women's cross country and track and field programs. He served in this capacity from 1987 to 1995. In 1995 Johnson became the first head coach of the Greenville women's soccer program, overseeing the transition from a college-sponsored club sport to an intercollegiate program. His teams enjoyed .500 or better records in just the fourth and fifth years of the program's existence, while also qualifying for two NCCAA North Central regionals. Johnson was also awarded SLIAC Coach of the Year honors in 1998.
Johnson transitioned into his current role of professor and multi-sport assistant coach in 2001. He has been a part of the men's soccer squad that qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2008 and 2010 and the NCCAA national men's soccer tournament in 2007 and 2009. On the track Johnson has trained four NCAA Division III national champions in hurdles events, and he was a part of the 2003 men's track and field team that placed seventh at the NCAA Division III national championships.
Johnson was also recently selected for induction into the Greenville College Athletic Hall of Fame for his coaching accomplishments. He will be formally inducted in April 2012.
Johnson and his wife Carol have two adult sons, Ben, who is married to Michelle, and Cole, who is married to Emily. They have four grandsons and one granddaughter.
About the Award - The Lee McKinney SLIAC Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to the individual that has served or competed in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and best exemplifies the qualities of leadership, dedication, service and perseverance displayed by longtime Fontbonne University director of athletics, Lee McKinney.
Dr. McKinney served as director of athletics at Fontbonne for 23 years, seeing the athletics program at the institution grow from three teams and 19 student-athletes when he arrived in 1988 to 19 teams and over 350 student-athletes at the time of his retirement. Dr. McKinney was instrumental in the formation of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as he joined representatives from Blackburn College, Maryville University, Parks College, Principia College and Webster University in chartering the Conference in September 1989.
During his years of service to the Conference, Dr. McKinney chaired the SLIAC Administrative Council and represented the Conference nationally, serving on the NCAA Management Council, Financial Aid Committee and Nominating Committee.
Dr. McKinney, who was a two-time cancer survivor, passed away on April 4, 2011. He had dedicated countless hours of service to local community organizations and raising money for various charities, mainly the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Coaches vs. Cancer.