Powered by

Reflections From The Big Chair With Temple’s Arthur Johnson

Guest Arthur Johnson, Temple University
22:22 min watch


Temple University’s Debbie and Stanley Lefkowitz ’65 Director of Athletics Arthur Johnson sits down with ADU’s Tai M. Brown at the 2024 NCAA Convention to reflect on key lessons he’s learned during his time in Philadelphia, including how to navigate unexpected presidential transitions and why it’s vital to embed Athletics within the broader campus community. Johnson and Brown also discuss the concept of “lonely leadership,” how to develop thick skin to absorb criticism, and why the student-athlete experience is Johnson’s core driver and evaluation point. Johnson: “For [administrators], when we go into places, it’s a logo for us that we can change. For our kids, it’s going to be their school, it’s going to be their place, and if they graduate, they’re going to connected to the university forever.”

The conversation is indexed below for efficient viewing (click the time stamp to jump to a specific question/topic).

  • - When I walked around campus with you recently, one thing you told me you loved about the university is that it's right there in the city and you get to experience the diversity of the city- why was that a new experience for you when you talk about working on a college campus?
  • - Tell me about the aspect of leadership that requires you to develop thick skin.
  • - On the concept of "lonely leadership" - who do you talk to?
  • - As the Athletics Director, it's up to you to make the major decisions. Tell me about your process for analyzing the available information and then coming back and saying "This is what we're going to do and this is how we're going to do it."
  • - Has there been anything that's surprised you that you handled well since you've been AD?
  • - When you started at Temple, the school was in the midst of looking for a coach... tell me how you handled that when it was thrown at you right away?
  • - When you work in a sport, you’re evaluated all the time - especially in football. Tell me about the pressure of having “all eyes on us” as an Athletics Department.
  • - Why is it so important for you and your family to be so engaged on campus?
  • - Tie that back to you and your family being on campus, eating at the restaurants… that’s part of understanding the environment, right?
  • - I appreciate that as the Athletic Director, you could go find the fanciest steak place - but there might be something right around campus that a donor might actually appreciate.
  • - Bringing people to campus - is that a broader vision for the institution? And you come in through Athletics and say “Okay, I see where we can help enhance that mission.”
  • - The institution was there before you got there; there was a culture in place before you got there; Athletics and the institution will be there after you leave, so you want to leave it better than you found it. What are you putting in place now so that you can leave it better than you found it?