The Elizabeth B. and Joel W. Johnson Scholarship
The Elizabeth B. and Joel W. Johnson Scholarship, established in 2012, is awarded with first preference given to students who are the children of either public school teachers or ordained Congregational (United Church of Christ) ministers.
Joel W. Johnson, Class of 1965, grew up in Garden City, New York, and admits he came to Hamilton “based far more on a feel than on a list of criteria.” A New York State Regents Scholarship winner, he majored in economics, played on the varsity soccer and golf teams, was a member of The Spectator staff, and member and president of Psi Upsilon fraternity. Following graduation, he went on to Harvard, where he discovered an interest in marketing and graduated with an M.B.A. in 1967.
In September 1967, he married the former Elizabeth “Beth” Bates, a recent graduate of Wellesley College, where she majored in sociology. Beth would go on to earn a Masters in Divinity from Yale University in 1983, followed by a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She was ordained to the ministry in the United Church of Christ and served as associate/head minister of congregations in Connecticut and Wisconsin, as well as Minister for Community Outreach for a Minnesota-based congregation. In 2012, she became Minister for Clergy Health and Vitality for the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ.
The year following his marriage, Joel enlisted in the U.S. Army. During his three-year tour, he spent a year in Vietnam, where he earned a Bronze Star Medal. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain and began his civilian life as an employee at General Foods in marketing and strategic planning. Following the company’s acquisition of Oscar Mayer, Joel was sent to Madison, Wisconsin, to oversee that subsidiary’s marketing efforts. In 1991, he moved to Hormel Foods where he was named President in 1992, followed by Chief Executive Officer in 1993 and Chairman in 1995. He retired from Hormel in 2006, and currently serves on the Hormel Foundation Board.
Joel’s service and philanthropic commitment to Hamilton is as long and distinguished as his professional career. He has been a member of the Alumni Council and the Board of Trustees, serving as an Alumni Trustee from 1994 to 1998, following which he was elected as a Charter Trustee in 1999 and Life Trustee in 2013. He has also served as a volunteer for the College’s annual fund, career center and admissions programs. In 1997, he established the J.W. Johnson Family Professorship in Environmental Studies, aimed at advancing the research and teaching of the physical and natural sciences within the overall scope of environmental studies.
The Johnsons have three children, including alumnus Katherine Johnson Potter ’93, who is married to James Potter ’92. The parents of Joel Johnson, Henry W. and Dorothy N. Johnson, were also generous supporters of College.
Please note: The named scholarships profiled on these pages are awarded as part of the College’s need-based financial aid packages. These funds help ensure the Hamilton Promise of keeping education affordable through meeting a student’s full demonstrated financial need.
Materials published here were diligently researched and written by students who strived for historical accuracy.