Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

In pursuit of community and individuality: Johnston at 55

In December 1976, Linda Braun ’79 fell in love on the University of Redlands Quad. 

She was walking one way, and her future husband was walking the other. “I just felt my heart just like, expand,” Braun said of the encounter. As it turns out, her heart was right.

Now married 43 years, Linda and her husband Steve ’79 returned to that same Quad to celebrate the Johnston Renewal, a homecoming of sorts held every five years for students of the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. The Brauns were joined by alumni from every decade of the Johnston program since its inception in 1969.

“This is actually the first time that my husband and I made it back to one of these,” Braun said. “We’ve stayed in touch with a few of our close friends here. It’s been a joy to see people.”

Fellow Johnstonians used the homecoming event to recant tales of the program’s first years when it was known as the Johnston College and reflected upon the meaning of Johnston and finding community on campus.

“When you have been through the experience that it offers, there’s a bonding that takes place,” Deb Howard ’75 said. “You’re opened up more. You’re more vulnerable. Anytime we create more vulnerability between us, it creates a bond.”

Bonding is one of the many benefits of being part of the Johnston community, evidenced in the Kathryn Green Plenary, “Johnston & the One Wild and Precious Life” delivered by Kathy Ogren, former Johnston director and former university provost. This live version of Ogren’s current seminar explored the educational and personal impact of Johnston’s past, present, and future.

“Tonight, you are all invited into our class,” Ogren said. “We believe this is the first student-facilitated Renewal plenary in Johnston’s history. We are really delighted to invite you into our class and have you experience it with us.”

Since its founding, Johnston has often been referred to as an experiment. However perceived, alumni say the unique experience that is Johnston has woven itself into the fabric that composes the University of Redlands. It has become a home for leaders, rebels, and those who relentlessly celebrate the spirit of individuality.

“Because the community aspect and being able to share a culture across different generations or classes of students, is like a fundamental part of my education that I do not think I would have experienced in another place,” Anathea Woirhaye ’24 said. “I think I would have transferred and left if I was not a Johnston student.”

Looking to the future, current Johnston director Tim Seiber sees what he calls “fire and fabric.” At the director’s brunch, the culminating event of Renewal 55, Seiber expressed his hope for the next generation of Johnstonians.

“Whatever it is that sparked you to be here now, your story won’t be the same as mine but nonetheless, whatever that flame is, however many lumens it’s producing in you right now, I hope that collectively, we can share that with future generations and with each other.”

The three-day Renewal included social events, current Johnston student-led mini-lectures, and a memorial service for Johnstonians who have passed away.

To learn more about the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, visit the link here.