Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has appointed Michael Clarke Johnsen to the Utah State Board of Education to replace Richard Moss, who is leaving the state.

Johnsen, 64, of Stansbury Park, Tooele County, has 40 years of experience in teaching and administration. He retired in July as superintendent of the Tooele School District.

"There is nothing more important in society than helping people learn to succeed in life. This is an opportunity to serve at a different level," Johnsen said.

Johnsen is looking forward to helping take on the challenges the board is facing, including seeing school districts through the economic crisis, dealing with growth and hiring a new state superintendent. When asked by the Deseret News, Johnson said he is not a proponent of vouchers.

State education officials said Moss is moving to Arizona for career reasons. Moss didn't return phone calls to the Deseret News on Thursday. Moss's term would have been up in 2010. He represented District 3.

Huntsman's spokeswoman Lisa Roskelley said Johnsen was recommended by Christine Kearl, the governor's education director. The retired superintendent was chosen mainly due to his education background.

"He won't need to spend a lot of time getting up to speed on critical issues," Roskelley said.

Johnsen's appointment is subject to confirmation from the Utah State Senate — potentially when the Senate meets again in May.

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Tooele District Superintendent Terry Linares, who has known Johnsen in education circles for 30 years, said she believes Johnsen will contribute greatly to the state board. "He's a brilliant educator and understands the needs of teachers and students," Linares said. "He also understands policy and procedure."

Johnsen has a master's degree in education with an administrative certificate from Utah State University. He served 29 years with the Utah Army National Guard, where he retired with the rank of colonel. He and his wife, JoLynne, have five children and 16 grandchildren.

E-mail: astewart@desnews.com