Milton and Denice Johnson: Building a Belmont Legacy

Milton and Denice Johnson have always believed in the transformative power of education. Denice graduated from Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University and taught locally for nearly a decade at several schools. Milton attended Stratford High School, a Metro Nashville school, before attending Belmont and later becoming CEO of Healthcare Corporation of America. They attribute their careers and success to opportunities for education.

Milton made his first gift to Belmont soon after his graduation in 1979. Since that time, the Johnsons have contributed over $10 million to the R. Milton and Denice Johnson Bridges to Belmont Endowed Scholarship Fund, supporting Belmont University’s signature scholarship program which provides full-ride scholarships to local Metro Nashville high school students. In 2015, the Bridges to Belmont program supported 25 full ride scholarships at Belmont. The program, now in its fifth year, supports more than 120 students in their pursuit of higher education.

The couple recently reaffirmed their commitment to Belmont by pledging $3.8 million of their estate to support Bridges to Belmont. The University will match their contribution in full as part of the We Believe Campaign, which will soon come to a close.

According to Milton, “As a high school student, I faced similar challenges as many of our Bridges to Belmont scholarship recipients. I was blessed to have people in my life, like my mother, who believed in not only the value of education but also in my potential. Their encouragement, guidance and belief in me gave me confidence that with hard work and a scholarship from Belmont, I could achieve greater success than I ever thought was possible. That’s why Denice and I contributed to the Bridges to Belmont program. My Belmont scholarship was a life-changing experience for me, and we want other Nashville public high school graduates to have the same opportunities at Belmont. We want these students to know that Belmont believes in them—we believe in them—and there are no limits to what they can achieve in life.”

In 2020, Belmont announced its plans to open a new College of Medicine. After serving as CEO of Healthcare Corporation of America, Milton is prepared and excited to oversee this historic project as Chairman of Belmont’s Board of Trustees. From his Belmont education and Board tenure to the couple’s financial support and personal connections to their students, Milton and Denice Johnson continue to build an incredible legacy of service and commitment to Belmont University.