TJ Johnston started as the Special University Projects/Community Affairs Director on Feb. 24.
Johnston will be responsible for overseeing the Donaghey Corridor project, the development of UCA’s Greek Village and will become UCA’s economic development liaison.
According to a UCA personnel action form, Johnston will receive a proposed salary of $105,000 for the recently created position.
Johnston graduated from UCA in 2003 as a marketing major. He worked at the Conway Chamber of Commerce for 12 years.
He and his wife Rachel have two children – a son Sawyer and a daughter Madelyn, who was killed in a four-wheeler accident.
How does it feel to be back at UCA, but as an employee instead of a student?
“It is hard to articulate how fond I am of UCA. I have seen firsthand the positive influence the university has had on Conway’s ability to recruit and retain jobs to this area. UCA also had a positive influence in my life. It is where I met my wife, Rachel. It is the first place I took our daughter, Madelyn, on a daughter-daddy date. It feels wonderful to answer the question.”
Was it difficult leaving the chamber of commerce?
“Yes. Over the past 12 years I have had the privilege to work with Conway’s economic and community development team. We have seen tremendous growth throughout this city. For example, our downtown has been transformed during the last decade. I take pride knowing that I had a hand in that. Most recently I was able to help with the formation of a joint venture between Conway Development Corporation and Montgomery, Ala.-based real estate developers, Jim Wilson & Associates. The joint venture will oversee the redevelopment of Conway’s current airport into a mixed-lifestyle/retail center. Walking away from this and other aspects of my previous job was not easy. With that said, I am confident that I made the right decision.”
What will be your responsibilities in your new job at UCA?
“I am involved with the initial planning and redevelopment of the Donaghey Corridor and other property developments as determined by President [Tom] Courtway and the board of trustees. I will serve as UCA’s economic development representative at the local, state and national level. This includes strengthening relationships between the University and major employers in central Arkansas.”
What are your thoughts on the Donaghey Corridor project?
“This development will better integrate our campus with the community. Upon completion, the Donaghey Corridor will enhance our ability to retain outstanding students, faculty and staff. It will also make Conway an even more attractive place to work and live.”