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Our Team

Sally Johnstone

President Emerita


Sally M. Johnstone served as NCHEMS’ President from 2016 – 2023 after a long career in higher education. She has served in leadership roles for both public and private universities, the founding director of a membership and policy organization within the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), an assistant dean, and as a faculty member. She also serves as the executive director of the Foundation for Student Success, a commissioner on the U.S. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Commission, and on the editorial boards for Change magazine (USA), the Journal of Open Learning (UK), and the Journal of Competency-Based Education and Innovation for which she was the founding editor.

Dr. Johnstone has written dozens of articles, books, and reports on issues of integrating effective new practices into academics. She has managed workshops, served on study groups, and given speeches throughout North America, Europe, and the Pacific Rim.

Areas of expertise:

  • Institutional change strategies
  • Competency-based education
  • Evaluations
  • Academic issues of information and communication technologies
  • State/system-level planning
  • Open Educational Resources
  • Facilitating academic discussions
  • Public Speaking

Education & Training

Sally earned her baccalaureate and master’s degrees from Virginia Tech and her Ph. D. in experimental psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill focusing on how people learn.

Outside Interests

Sally and her husband are grateful to live in Boulder, Colorado. They enjoy the outdoor opportunities and majestic views of the Rocky Mountains. They both enjoy travel and time with their family. She is an avid walker and hiker but enjoys evenings reading while listening to calming music.

Why I Work With NCHEMS

The variety of problems in higher education we are asked to help solve makes working at NCHEMS constantly interesting and keeps me learning.