Jump to main content

Radiating positive energy is his goal at work and home

Smiling man with cropped dark hair, beard, and mustache, wearing a magenta checked shirt and jeans. On white banner with-Ulysses Johnson Jr., Superintendent of Utilities, Facilities Management, and blue Employee Recognition Program logo.

Growing up, Ulysses Johnson Jr. relished holidays. They were the times when everyone gathered on the family’s South Carolina farm to catch up and celebrate. And these were big celebrations; on his father’s side alone he could count 22 aunts and uncles, plus numerous cousins.

During these reunions, the young man learned about family, faith, service, and the value of quality work. Throughout his 35-year career at UT Southwestern, those lessons have stayed with him.

“I encounter different challenges daily. They always come up, and it’s how you approach them that makes the difference,” says Mr. Johnson, who started at UTSW in 1988 as a maintenance worker and today is a Superintendent of Utilities in Facilities Management. “I bought in on the premise of a positive work environment. In a shop setting, it changes the dynamic – all the way from supervisors to team members. If you choose to make the energy around you positive, at some point in life it will become you.”

His duties range from working with contractors to training others at diagnosing problems on UT Southwestern’s various heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and water systems. But he’s also been known to go waist-deep in water to position pumps while restoring power after a flooding incident.

After serving in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Johnson was a firefighter for five years in Columbia, South Carolina. What he hoped would be a first-responder opportunity in Dallas proved to be the gateway to a new career with another large community.

“Dallas had 12 open firefighter positions, so I came here with my fiancée,” he says. “In all, more than 300 applied for those jobs, and I wasn’t selected. But I heard that UT Southwestern was growing and I thought there might be another opportunity. That was 35 years ago, and I’m still here.”

On Halloween, he has come to work dressed as a doctor and a firefighter. For department parties, Mr. Johnson may bring the team a big plate of his seven-layer lasagna or his newest specialty, banana pudding.

In his spare time, he shares his strong faith and mentors others, cuts the hair of anyone who needs it, plays chess, and tinkers around the house.

He and Angela, his wife of 37 years, also take great pride in seeing their son, Joshua, on pace at the University of North Texas to become a career development counselor.

“I’m going to retire someday, but not before my wife,” Mr. Johnson says. ‘She works for the school system and also loves what she does. Maybe we’ll slow down once the son graduates.”

Back-to top