Moderated Panel on the Future of Student Affairs
Dr. Levester "LJ" Johnson, Dr. Kevin Kruger, Dr. Julie Payne-Kirchmeier
Dr. Levester Johnson, better known as L.J. to colleagues and friends, began service as the Vice President for student affairs at Illinois State University in July of 2016. Johnson has more than 30 years of experience within student affairs including 20 years as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Butler University. Within his campus leadership roles, L.J. has demonstrated a commitment to campus safety and student well-being through fostering environments which empower students and campus community members to engage in healthy behaviors, to support others trying to do the same, and to look out for one another. He has a strong track record of creating signature approaches to campus residential programs and facilities as well as advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives.
He has held numerous leadership positions within professional organizations including NASPA- Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education where he served as Region IV-East Vice President, the first Chair of the NASPA Board of Directors and been recognized as a Pillar of the Profession. A native of Milwaukee, WI, L.J. holds a Bachelors of Arts in broadcast communications from Marquette University, a Master of Science in college student personnel from Southern Illinois University and an Ed.D. in higher education administration from Indiana University.
L.J. has also been recognized throughout Higher Education for his innovative and effective use of social media in engaging campus communities. His social media platforms have been recognized within NASPA's Leadership Exchange magazine as well as bachelorsdegree.org's "25 College Presidents You Should Follow on Twitter" list. He is often asked to speak on the topic of social media including presentations at the Confederation of Student Services in Ireland (CSSI) International conference; the Annual International Forum on Student Affairs in Mexico; and the NASPA Mid-level and New Professionals Conference. Versions of his popular campus “Tweet Treats” have been replicated on college campuses throughout the country.
Dr. Kevin Kruger draws on more than 35 years of experience in higher education. Since 2012, he has served as president and CEO for NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Prior to his role as president, Dr. Kruger worked for 18 years as the associate executive director and served as the chief operating officer (COO) and chief financial officer (CFO) for NASPA. He has held a range of student affairs positions at Southern Methodist University and the University of Maryland. As NASPA president, Dr. Kruger represents student affairs at a variety of national forums and is a frequent contributor to higher education news stories on the college student experience. Dr. Kruger has published and presented nationally on trends in higher education, student success, degree-completion strategies for low-income/first generation students, technology, and change management and leadership in higher education.
He is the proud father of two children, one a college junior and the other a senior in high school. Dr. Kruger received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland.
Dr. Julie Payne-Kirchmeier is senior student affairs professional with over 20 years of progressively responsible and expansive leadership across institutional types and functional areas. Julie has been asked to spearhead institution-wide new initiatives based on professional expertise in strategic planning and assessment, cross-functional collaboration, student development, and innovative problem-solving. She has a demonstrated history of creating and supervising high-performing teams that deliver results for the institution while also serving and advocating for students.
Julie currently serves as the Associate Vice President and Chief of Staff at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, in which she oversees the full strategic resource management for the Division of Student Affairs, including facilities, housing, dining, finance, technology, marketing, communications, assessment, long-range planning, emergency planning, and the Norris University Center. Julie earned her B.S. degree in Genetics and her M.Ed. degree in Student Affairs Administration from Texas A&M University-College Station, and her Ph.D. at Indiana State University. A recipient of state, regional, national and international awards for her service to her profession, most recently she was awarded the Parthenon Award from ACUHO-I, one of the association’s highest honors. She currently serves as the NASPA Region IV-E Director and on the NASPA Board of Directors.
Prior to joining Northwestern University, Julie served in various student affairs leadership roles, including as the Director of Housing for the University of Southern Indiana, the Assistant Provost for the University College at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) and concurrently, as SIU’s Director of University Housing. Julie is currently a faculty member in the masters program in higher education at Northwestern. Her research focuses on feminism and women’s issues in higher education, social media use in student affairs, and on organizational management in student affairs/higher education.