A Conversation With Dr. Francis S. ‘Frank’ Johnson

He Led Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, Which Later Became UT Dallas

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“ A Conversation With…”
is a series of informal and unscripted visits with leading figures from The University of Texas at Dallas.  From describing what an “aha!” moment feels like to explaining the moment or identifying the person that sparked a lifelong passion, these conversations will meander through the minds and memories that make up UT Dallas.

Hosted by
Communication Manager
Brandon V. Webb


Frank Johnson
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Frank Johnson’s Biography

Sept. 17, 2009

We sat down for A Conversation With ... former acting UT Dallas President, Dr. Francis S. “Frank” Johnson.

Dr. Johnson served as president of the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies (SCAS) and presided over the organization’s transition to becoming UT Dallas and a full-fledged member of the University of Texas System in 1969.

Dr. Johnson was acting president of UT Dallas through July of 1971, when Dr. Bryce Jordan became the first president of UT Dallas.

During our visit, Dr. Johnson shared recollections and thoughts about:

      • Dr. Lloyd Berkner’s role in recruiting him to UT Dallas.
      • Space research he conducted using captured German V2 rockets.
      The transformation of SCAS into a fledgling university and the opposition to that effort in the late 1960s.
      • The positive and lasting impacts of his time in leadership at SCAS and UT Dallas.
      • The efforts the university is undertaking to grow and become Tier One.


Media contact: Brandon V. Webb, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, brandon.webb@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Frank Johnson

“I don’t know that the organization could have survived without some leadership in this.  The other part of it was the matter of financing—of course that was at the heart of it.  It was proving more costly than private philanthropy could support…that was one of the things that led really to the realization that the only way to preserve the institution was to bring it under state support.”

—Frank Johnson,
On his time in leadership at SCAS and UT Dallas

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September 17, 2014