Johnsons provide first fully-endowed Land-Grant Legacy Scholarship

Dennis and Victoria Johnson are the first CFANS donors to fully-endow a scholarship in the Land-Grant Legacy Scholarship (LGLS) Program.

Launched in 2017, the LGLS Program supports access to the University of Minnesota (UMN) for students in greater Minnesota. The program offers a four-year University of Minnesota experience including a cohort community and a financial scholarship worth $20,000 over four years. With their gift, the Johnsons have chosen to support students pursuing majors in applied economics or agricultural and food business management.

Dennis Johnson started his career at the U of M, coming from a small dairy farm in east central Minnesota. He graduated in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and went on to pursue his master’s degree in the same department while his wife Vicki worked for the university.

He started his career at the St. Paul Bank for Cooperatives as a credit analyst and worked his way up to become president and chief executive officer. Under his direction, the bank took leadership in financing and supporting cooperatives and new cooperative formation, thereby encouraging the application of the cooperative business model to rural economic development. He contributed to helping emerging democracies in Eastern Europe move to free market economies through his work with Agricultural Cooperative Development International and as a board member of Western NIS Enterprise Fund. Johnson has also long played a leading role in the senior cooperative housing sector, strengthening Cooperative Housing Resources, the nation’s only lender focused solely on financing senior housing cooperatives.

Already long-time donors to UMN, the Johnsons were drawn to the LGLS program as an ideal opportunity to help communities like the ones in which they grew up. “We loved that the program supported a student for all four years at a significant amount,” said Dennis, “and that it was rural and had follow-up programming.”

“Giving the people of Minnesota access to higher education is why we’re here and what we’re supposed to be doing,” said Mike White, associate dean of academic programs for CFANS. “We’re incredibly thankful for the Johnson’s support for this program and our students.”

The timing was ideal. A student interested in applied economics who could be considered for the program became the first to be supported by their gift this fall.