DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Valerie C. Johnson named associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion

Valerie C. Johnson named DePaul University's associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion

Valerie Johnson speaking
(DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

Following a national search, Provost Salma Ghanem announced Valerie Johnson will serve as DePaul's associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion in the Office of Academic Affairs. Johnson is currently serving as the interim associate provost for​ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at DePaul and is also an associate professor of political science and the Endowed Professor of Urban Diplomacy at the Grace School for Applied Diplomacy. Her appointment will begin on August 1. 

“During her 20-year career at DePaul, Valerie has long been an important advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion," Ghanem says. “Her work as a Presidential Diversity Fellow and her overall commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, DePaul and its mission will serve her and the university well as she assumes this role on a permanent basis."  

As associate provost, Johnson will partner with DEI leaders in DePaul's colleges, schools and academic units. In addition to providing leadership and counsel, she will work with faculty to develop ways to infuse diversity into the curriculum and will continue efforts to recruit, develop and retain a diverse faculty.  Johnson will also serve as the deputy Title IX coordinator for faculty, chair the speech and expression advisory committee, conduct the faculty search and implicit bias training and produce the annual faculty diversity report. 

“I am pleased to serve in a role that aligns with my personal values and my research, teaching and DEI-related service on campus, across the state of Illinois and in marginalized communities,” Johnson says. “I look forward to assisting the college-level diversity committees, the diversity advocates and members of the Faculty Council committee on equity, inclusion, and diversity to develop unit-level DEI action plans that promote day-to-day DEI strategies that are consistent with DePaul’s recruitment, retention and climate-related goals.”

In addition to Johnson’s interim role, she has been an associate professor at DePaul since 2007. Her expertise includes urban politics, African American politics, American government, and the politics of urban education. In 2020 she was the inaugural recipient of the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In 2021 Johnson became the Endowed Chair of Urban Diplomacy in the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy and served as a Presidential Diversity Fellow during the 2021-22 academic year. 
While a fellow, Johnson collaborated with university officers and unit heads on a project to align unit-level, day-to-day practices, and institutional goals by surveying DEI-related activities and initiatives throughout the university.  

“My role as associate provost will extend my work as a Presidential Diversity Fellow by emphasizing the need for tangible and measurable unit-level DEI practice,” Johnson says. “I am grateful that DePaul has entrusted me with such an important role that is so vital to our mission and strategic planning.” Faculty mentoring training and restorative justice practices are central to Johnson’s goals.  

Prior to her role as associate professor, she was an assistant and visiting assistant professor at DePaul and an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Chicago. She has a doctorate in government and politics from the University of Maryland College Park, a master's in political science from Atlanta University, and a bachelor’s in political science from North Carolina A&T State University.
Johnson has served as interim associate provost since December 2022 and succeeds Cynthia Pickett, who served in the role from July 2020 to December 2022.