January 28, 2005

JOHNSON HONORED AT IVY FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION EVENT

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Jan. 28, 2005

Ivy League football has produced its share of National Football League players, coaches, and executives, but many graduates of these eight schools have become even more famous for their post-gridiron careers.

The Ivy Football Association celebrated these off-the-field accomplishments at last night's black-tie dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City where more than 1,200 were in attendance. The event honored a former player from each institution who has distinguished himself since graduation. New York Governor George Pataki '67 served as the honorary chairman, Jack Ford '72 was the master of ceremonies and Henry G. Higdon '63 was the dinner chair.

Charles Johnson '54, a varsity letterman for the Bulldogs, was the Yale honoree. Johnson, a 5-foot-10, 183-pound offensive guard from Montclair, N.J., earned his varsity letter for the 1953 Bulldogs who went 5-2-2 - including a two-point win at Princeton -- under head coach Jordan Olivar.

Johnson is the Chairman and Chief Executive of Franklin Resources, heading up one of the world's most distinguished mutual fund companies. During his great success in the financial world, he has been extremely generous to his alma mater, contributing Johnson Field (synthetic turf complex for field hockey and lacrosse) and a major gift to Yale enabling it to move ahead with the renovations of Yale Bowl.

"The dinner was a wonderful way to celebrate Charlie's prestigious career and his contributions to Yale and the business world," said Yale Athletics Director Tom Beckett. "The Yale turnout at the Waldorf was a fitting tribute to his stature as an alum and former Bulldog athlete."

The honorees from the other institutions were Robert A. Seiple '65 (Brown), William V. Campbell '62 (Columbia), Thomas D. MacLeod '70 (Cornell), Jeffrey R. Immelt '78 (Dartmouth), John D. Nichols '53 (Harvard), William D. Novelli '63 (Penn) and Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. '79 (Princeton).

Johnson, last in the alphabetical order of honorees, had the unenviable task of following seven tremendous orations but pulled it off with great eloquence while comparing football to business and mixing in plenty of humor.

"Football is a game of goals, and you don't always succeed. In business, you make mistakes and things happen too," Johnson told the wall-to-wall crowd. "In both cases, it's how you handle the turnovers and mistakes. As long as you keep picking yourself up, you can succeed."

Better than 150 Yale graduates attended the event, many of whom played in Yale Bowl over the last 50 years.

The Ivy Football Association is a unique partnership of football alumni organizations to promote the football programs and bring the eight schools closer together while fostering a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation.

"We are proud of our institutions because they are the finest in the world," said Pataki in his speech that included a number of light-hearted jabs at some of the non-Blue and White schools. "The real world is Ivy League football, which is the finest amateur sports program in America."

Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Assistant AD/Sports Publicity Director