Keith B. Johnson, 87, professor emeritus and former head of the School of Business’ Finance Department, passed away peacefully at Windham Memorial Community Hospital on Aug. 21.
Johnson had worked in the School for 34 years before his retirement in 1996. While he enjoyed his many professional accomplishments, such as his time in Washington D.C. at the Securities and Exchange Commission as a staff economist and summers as a Ford Foundation Scholar at Harvard University, he was truly most proud of his work with all of his students at UConn, his obituary read.
Johnson is remembered fondly by his colleagues as an outstanding faculty member, a trusted confidant, a hard worker, and a cherished friend.
Tom O’Brien, professor emeritus, worked for Johnson and became a very good friend. Johnson, he said, was a person you could confide in. When a colleague was terminally ill, it was Johnson who was consistently there to provide comfort, O’Brien said. And when you needed a helping hand, he was exceptional.
“I lived in my home for 10 years and I’d accumulated a lot of stuff in my basement,’’ O’Brien said. “When I was preparing to move, Keith came over and worked harder than I did to get the stuff loaded and cleared out. I’ve never forgotten how much he helped me that day. Of all the people I call my friends, no one went out of their way for another than KJay.’’
During his tenure, the School of Business created the Ph.D. program in finance. Although Johnson was initially skeptical about initiating the program, no one worked harder to ensure its success, OBrien said.
“Keith was a guiding light in the School in the 1980s and ’90s, as it transitioned into a full-fledged research institution,’’ recalled Karla Fox, professor emeritus and former Interim Dean. “He was one of the hardest-working, honest individuals I have ever known, and a pleasure to work with. He will be missed.’’
“It is definitely a sad day and a great loss, not only to the Finance Department but to the School of Business and the University,’’ said accounting professor Mo Hussein. “KJay was a leader whose contributions were beyond the finance department. He was also a community leader. He organized an annual race to raise money for the hospital and several other local charities.
“KJay was one of the first colleagues outside the accounting department to reach out to me and invite my family to his home,’’ Hussein said. “He is one of those who created the special the friendly culture of the school. In his passing I lost a friend and a mentor.’’