In Memoriam: Chandice Johnson

July 11, 1930 - October 9, 2020

All of us at the Center for Writers (CFW) were sad to hear that Chandice Johnson passed away. Chandice established the CFW in the fall of 1994 with funding he secured through a grant from the Bush Foundation. He directed the Center until 1999 and helped students learn to apply grammar rules, improve their class papers, and write effective documents that helped launch some in their professions. Since then, thousands more NDSU students have come to the Center for Writers to improve their writing—Chandice’s legacy will continue well into the future.

I am grateful to Chandice for his vision and dedication in founding our Center.

Enrico Sassi
Former Director, Center for Writers


I have fond memories of catching up with Chandice (and Thema!) every year while conferences of the Linguistic Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota lasted, even though Chandice had already retired by the time I moved to NDSU and met him in 2007. After the Circle disbanded, I was delighted to talk with him once again when NDSU’s Center for Writers moved into its new quarters in 2018 and held an open house. He was a Bison teacher of writing till the end. What an honor it has been to know him.

Dr. Bruce Maylath
Professor of English


During my interactions with Chandice over the years, I was always touched by his gentleness, his positive outlook, his dedication to excellence, and his concern for others. His desire to help students was especially evident when he spoke about his part in establishing the Center for Writers in the 1990s.  Chandice left a legacy that will live on at NDSU as long as the Center exists and students are served.  We have lost a champion, and I will miss him.

Mary Pull
Associate Director, Center for Writers


When Chandice Johnson established NDSU’s Center for Writers (CFW) in 1994, he created a place for NDSU students, faculty, and staff to become better writers.  For the CFW’s first three years, it was funded by a Bush Grant.  Thereafter, NDSU supported this important campus service.  

Chandice served as a mentor and colleague for everyone who worked with him.  His kindness, compassion, and friendship were as important as what he taught us.  We worked through technology issues when a printer or computer didn’t want to cooperate.  We helped people become better writers.  We had fun doing everything.  

I remember watching Chandice and Ryan Trauman work on the proceedings for the Linguistics Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota’s annual meetings.  They were meticulous with the content and the layout of their finished product.

When the College of Humanities and Social Sciences became the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the CFW staff had a lively discussion about the use/nonuse of the Oxford comma.  Most of us wanted the Oxford comma, but the college committee chose not to use it.

I clearly remember the day that Chandice pointed out an error in my master’s thesis.  I was tired of writing and saw what I had wanted my fingers to type on that page.  Chandice underlined the text in question and brought the page to my desk.  He placed the page in front of me and walked away without saying a word.  He turned around to see the look of horror on my face when I realized what punctuation had been typed when I clearly meant something else.  Isolating the text allowed me to see what was there, and I immediately corrected the issue.  We both had a good laugh about the error, and I often use this example to illustrate why everyone needs to proofread (or have someone else do that task) documents before submission.

Even after retirement, Chandice stayed active on campus and in the community.  He helped with a CFW as one of three assistant directors during the first year of his retirement.  He attended open houses and other events at the Center for Writers until 2018.  A highlight of attending these events was the chance to see and talk with Chandice and Thema (his wife).  Chandice and Thema attended a variety of fine arts events, too.

Chandice was one of a kind.  He will be missed by everyone who worked with him.  We are all better people because we got to work with him and to be his friend.

Bonnie Cooper
CFW Graduate Consultant, Assistant Director, and Interim Director, 1996-2004

Former and current CFW directors celebrate at the grand opening of the Center's new home in suite 16 in the NDSU Main Library.
Left to Right: Enrico Sassi (2018-2022), Chandice Johnson (1994-1999), Bonnie Cooper (2001-2004), and Mary Pull (2007-present)


“He was an amazing guy.” 
Meika (Smith) Jensen
(CFW Undergraduate Consultant, Graduate Consultant, and Assistant Director, 1995-1997 and 1998-2001)


“He was such a kind, sweet, gentle man.” 
Nicholas Ravn 
(CFW Graduate Consultant, 1995-1997)


“Chandice was a masterful editor and teacher.” 
Dr. Timothy L. Sellnow 
(NDSU Communication department, 1988-2007)

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