Scott Johnson: A Life Open to God
Scott Johnson, Ph.D., associate communication professor, passed away on January 3, 2011 from complications with cancer. He was 54-years-old.
As a junior communication major with a public relations concentration, I first had Dr. Scott as a professor for communication theory in fall 2009. At first, I struggled with his teaching style because he pushed his students so much. I felt that he expected near perfection from papers and assignments. He told us he does not give 100 percents because there is always something that can be fixed or made better. There were times early in the semester when I wanted to give up, because he made me rewrite so many papers and redo so many homework assignments; I felt as though there was no possible way to succeed in his class.
However, as the semester went on, I discovered that Dr. Scott was not doing these things to make me miserable. He was doing it to push me to be a better student and eventually a better employee someday. I realized that he was not only there to teach me about communication, but he was also there to teach me about life, something that goes far beyond the four walls of a classroom.
This past fall I began my second class with Dr. Scott. Only weeks into the semester, he told our class that his cancer had returned and that he had begun treatment. Dr. Scott was never afraid to tell our class exactly how he was feeling, both physically and emotionally. And there were some days when he was forced to cancel class due to sickness, doctor appointments or treatments. In all honesty, I was frustrated at first because I felt like I was not learning as much as I should have been. Then I came to realize how selfish I was being, because he was teaching me more about communication through his life than I could ever learn through a lecture or a textbook. I also didn’t realize how much he loved teaching until I found out that there were some days when he had chemo in the morning, and yet he was still determined to teach our class in the afternoon.
Throughout this past semester, he had each student in his persuasion class study the book of 1 Timothy and “persuaded” us to apply it to our lives. At first, I thought the Bible was simple; it was easy; it was black and white. I wondered how I could be “persuaded” otherwise. However, Dr. Scott’s idea ended up being a life-changing experience for me. Paul wrote this book to Timothy to encourage him to live a life of “love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God” (1 Tim. 1:5). I decided in Dr. Scott’s class that this is the way I wanted to live my life, a life that is always open to God, and all it took for me to be persuaded to do so was an example. Dr. Scott was the perfect example; he showed me every day that even in the midst of pain and suffering that he was living a life open to God. And even more importantly, he showed me that it is possible for me to do the same.