FROM THE PRESENT VICE PRESIDENT
FOR FINANCIAL AFFAIRS
As you read this issue of Rerum Scriptor, honoring the life and work of Pleasant Lee Johnson, I believe that you will impressed, as I was, by the influence that Mr. Johnson had on the newly formed institution of higher learning—the school that had emerged during the years soon after the founding of the town itself—Hastings College.
In its early years, Hastings College, of necessity, hired individuals such as "PL," who had no hands-on knowledge of management in a college environment. However, "PL," with his previous experience as a teacher, a real estate agent, and a banker, was well suited to deal with the financial and management needs of a fledgling educational institution.
As you read on, you will, I think, be impressed with the commitment of this man to his employer. "PL," an outstanding athlete—he once rode a bicycle to Lincoln (ninety miles distant) in a day—organized the first Bronco football team, was instrumental in building the College’s first two gymnasiums, and was a founding member of the local Y.M.C.A.
The fact that P.L. Johnson continued as Secretary to the College Board of Trustees until his eighty-eighth birthday is testimony, not only to the high degree of his commitment, but also to the seeming invincibility of his mental acuity and his general good health.
The college that "PL" struggled so mightily to keep afloat is now an institution nearly 120 years old, with an enrollment of approximately 1,200 students and a net worth of over $80,000,000, including an endowment fund in excess of $50,000,000. It has an operating budget of more than $15,000,000 and provides institutional scholarships worth more than $5,000,000 annually. This compares to a budget during "PL’s" tenure with the College in the late 1920s of around $120,000, including tuition, room, and board revenue of just over $50,000. The campus has increased in size from one building (McCormick Hall) with 12,000 square feet to nineteen major buildings and a total campus building square footage of close to 500,000 square feet. I think "PL" would be exceedingly proud of the fledgling institution in which he invested so much of his energy, if he could see it today.