Keith Johnson

All students come to Eastern Michigan University seeking opportunity— the opportunity to succeed, to get an education, and to ultimately make a better life for themselves. Some students, however, can also face unexpected and challenging circumstances. Medical expenses, car malfunctions, or financial setbacks can greatly influence the course of some students’ education. 

Alumnus Keith Johnson (BBA81) is hoping to guarantee that all students are able to continue their education no matter what life throws at them. As a donor to the College of Business Student Emergency Fund, Keith is providing the chance for those experiencing financial hardships to shift their focus back on completing their degree. 

“During my career I’ve seen people who for a variety of reasons are in a financial crisis,” Keith shared. “Sometimes a setback can stop someone from finishing their education, and I just don’t want that to happen.” 

Keith is a graduate of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan. His education provided him with the tools to have a successful future. “I love hiring people from the Midwest,” Keith said. “The strong work ethic, humble background, and willingness to learn are some of the advantages we have.” 

For Keith, the act of giving back to his alma mater is personal. “The moment I heard about the Student Emergency Fund, I said to count me in,” he explained. “It brings together those in need with those who can give, and it just made sense!” The fund is a resource for students who have exhausted all other financial options and are unable to register for the next semester due to an outstanding balance on their account.

Knowing that the funds would be directly impacting students’ ability to continue their education made it an easy decision for Keith. He’s even received thank you notes from students who have directly been impacted by his giving! 

“The letters I’ve received are heartfelt,” Keith shared. “These students are just trying to balance life, and one small thing like a car breaking down can put them in a hard place.”

Choosing where to give is important for Keith and his wife Denise, who started their Charitable Giving Fund in 2001. As a graduate who hadn’t been in contact with the University for over 35 years, Keith was a bit hesitant at first. “I wanted to know where my money was going,” he explained. 
The Student Emergency Fund gave a direct route for Keith to impact students. The money helps the student graduate, provides the university tuition and creates a new alumnus that one day might do the same. “Everyone wins and my wife and I feel good about doing our small part,” Keith said.