Lobby named for alumni, longtime University supporters

MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University officially dedicated the Charles and Marlene Johnson Lobby at Lovett Auditorium with a ribbon cutting ceremony Dec. 5.

The lobby is named after University alumni and longtime supporters Charles, ’56 and Marlene Johnson, ’57, of Carrier Mills, Illinois. 

Charles earned his Bachelor of Science in history at Murray State before becoming an educator and sharing his passion for history with his students. He retired as superintendent of schools from Livingston County, Michigan. In 2013, Charles was awarded the highest honor granted by the Murray State Alumni Association, the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Marlene earned her Bachelor of Music Education at Murray State before entering the classroom as a music teacher. She shared her love of music with students for many years and served as a guidance counselor before retiring.

During the couple’s time at Murray State, the Johnson performed among the cast in Campus Lights theatrical productions held each year at Lovett Auditorium. In 2012, they were both recipients of the Golden Horseshoe Award, which honors alumni whose dedication to Murray State has contributed to the continued growth and excellence of the University.

Over the years, the Johnson have generously given many gifts to their alma mater, including an organ for Lovett Auditorium, a grand piano for the Department of Music and gifts to establish the Dr. Charles and Marlene Johnson Outstanding Music Faculty Award, the Dr. Charles L. And Marlene Rann Johnson Music Scholarship, the Dr. Charles and Marlene Johnson Outstanding Education Faculty Award and the Charles and Marlene Johnson Colloquium Series in support of the Department of Music, the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.


Murray State University officially dedicated the Charles and Marlene Johnson Lobby at Lovett Auditorium with a ribbon cutting ceremony Dec. 5. Pictured from left are Murray State University Town & Gown Special Projects Coordinator Carol Brunn, Marlene and Charles Johnson, their daughter Lisa Haston, University President Dr. Bob Jackson and College of Humanities and Fine Arts Director of Development Lucy Love.

Additionally, they have made possible extensive renovations in Lovett Auditorium and the installation of the carillon bells that ring through the campus and beyond.

“I’ve had the honor to work with and know the Johnson family for many years,” said University President Dr. Bob Jackson. “They’ve done a lot for Murray State, and we appreciate being able to bestow this dedication to them.”

“Marlene and I are very honored and humbled by this dedication,” Charles said. “We love Murray State and we always enjoy coming back to our alma mater. We wish this University and our new president well and we hope that the growth and vitality of this institution continues through the ages.”

“I’m going to paraphrase a quote on the plaque and a quote from Charles: ‘Our job is to leave this place better than it was when we got here,’” said Dr. David Balthrop, dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. “Charles and Marlene Johnson have certainly done that at Murray State University. For that, we are eternally grateful.”

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