Remembering Ken Johnson Jr., MIT DAPER director of communications, promotions, and marketing | MIT News


On Feb. 12, the Division of Student Life and MIT lost a valued community member. Ken Johnson Jr., director of communications, promotions, and marketing in the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER), passed away following complications from a stroke. He was 47 years old.

Johnson’s sports information career spanned 25 years. Prior to working at MIT, he worked at Brown University and was the sports information director at Manhattanville College, the University of Bridgeport, St. Anselm College, and Assumption University. For the last eight years, Johnson has been at MIT, where he loved working with student-athletes and was recognized many times for his contributions to the sports communications profession.

“Ken truly embraced his role in DAPER. He loved working with our student-athletes and coaches. He continuously displayed his commitment to making every team feel special,” says G. Anthony Grant, DAPER department head and director of athletics.

A passion for sports and collegiate athletics

As a Red Sox fan, an avid golfer, a marathon runner, and a lover of all kinds of sports, Johnson was passionate about working with all of MIT’s 33 sports teams — and it showed. He was recently honored by the College Sports Communicators for his 25-year career in the field. Johnson was also the second vice president of the Eastern Athletic Communications Association and the recipient of the 2019 U.S. Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association Excellence in Communications Award for NCAA Division III Track and Field.

Andrew Barlow, associate professor and baseball coach, also admired Johnson’s enthusiasm for his work, adding, “Ken was a true professional and an instant friend for those who had the opportunity to know him. His passion for the sports communication profession and his devotion to all the student-athletes with whom he supported were remarkable. He was a true fan of all our MIT athletic teams and was an integral part of our MIT baseball family.

“All our players will have fond memories of Ken’s reactions when they would try to make him laugh with silly post-game interview antics. All of us coaches will surely miss our post-game ‘debrief’ sessions where Ken would point out all of ‘our potential decision-making mistakes’ that we might have made,” Barlow says.

“He took great pride when Karenna Groff won the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, and he even attended the ceremony in San Antonio, Texas, where she was recognized,” says Grant. “Ken was also ecstatic when our Men’s Cross-Country team won the program’s first Division III NCAA National Championship. He even bought a full-sized replica of the trophy to put in his office.”



A true New Englander

Johnson grew up on Cape Cod and graduated from Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School. He subsequently earned a bachelor of science in sports management from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is survived by his parents, Kenneth and Katherine “Kate” Johnson, his sister Megan Warfield, her husband, Bill, and his beloved nephew Cameron.

Gifts in Johnson’s memory can be made to the Friends of DAPER Fund.


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