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Nominations due Feb. 8 for Johnson Award recognizing faculty leadership in equity, diversity and inclusion

Jan. 18, 2016, 8:00 AM

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Bishop Joseph A. Johnson Jr.

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos announced Jan. 18 the establishment of the Joseph A. Johnson, Jr. Distinguished Leadership Professor Award, to be awarded annually beginning at the 2016 Spring Faculty Assembly to a full-time, regular faculty member for distinguished leadership at Vanderbilt University. The deadline for submissions is Monday, Feb. 8.

The Johnson Award will recognize a faculty member whose contributions to the university have enhanced equity, diversity and inclusion in the university’s academic endeavors. It will recognize, and thereby inspire in others, initiatives related to diversity and inclusion in the university community and efforts to support equity for faculty, students, staff and alumni.

“As we continue the vital work of making Vanderbilt a more welcoming and inclusive community for all of its members, the Joseph A. Johnson, Jr. Distinguished Leadership Professor Award will celebrate faculty who are incorporating these values into their academic research and classroom teaching. In doing so, they are motivating their colleagues and students alike to address some of the most important challenges facing society today,” Zeppos said.

The winner will receive a cash award of $2,500, an engraved silver tray, and official designation as the Joseph A. Johnson, Jr. Distinguished Leadership Professor for one academic year.

Members of the faculty are invited to submit nominations to the Faculty Senate beginning immediately. Nominations should be sent to facultysenate@vanderbilt.edu. A letter of nomination and the curriculum vitae of the nominee also should be provided. The deadline for submissions is Monday, Feb. 8. The Faculty Senate Consultative Committee will review nominations and make recommendations to Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Wente and Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion George C. Hill. Final selection will be made by the chancellor in consultation with the provost and the vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion.

The Rev. Joseph A. Johnson Jr. was the first African American to be admitted to Vanderbilt University. When the Board of Trust voted in May 1953 to admit Johnson to the School of Religion, Vanderbilt became the first privately endowed university in the Southeast to break the racial barrier in admissions.

In 1954, Johnson became the first African American to earn a Vanderbilt degree, the bachelor of divinity. He also was the first African American to earn a doctoral degree, the Ph.D., in 1958.

Johnson served several churches as pastor, taught theology at three institutions, wrote five books, and in 1966 was elected the 34th bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Johnson became Vanderbilt’s second African American trustee in 1971, and in 1984 the university’s Black Cultural Center was named in his honor.

A comparable award for staff at Vanderbilt University who have demonstrated leadership in equity, diversity and inclusion will be announced soon.