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Valerie Johnson appointed interim associate provost for DEI

Fall campus
(DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

Provost Salma Ghanem announced today that Valerie Johnson will serve as the university's interim associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion in the Office of Academic Affairs. An associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Johnson's appointment will begin Dec. 1.

Valerie Johnson
Valerie Johnson, an associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, will serve as interim associate provost for DEI effective Dec. 1.

"DePaul is firmly committed to creating a welcoming and respectful environment that embraces diversity as a dimension of excellence," Ghanem says. "Valerie shares this commitment as evidenced by the work she has already completed in this arena both on and off campus. I am grateful she has accepted this appointment."

As interim associate provost, Johnson will report to the provost and will provide vision, leadership and counsel on issues of diversity and inclusion. She will continue work with the colleges on matters dealing with diversity and inclusion, including exploring ways to infuse diversity into the curriculum, reviewing policies, working with the college diversity advocates and collaborating with colleges on the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty. In this role, Jonson will chair the Speech and Expression Advisory Committee and become a member of Academic Council and Provost Council. Johnson also will work closely with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity and with other entities on campus focusing on diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Johnson, who served as a Presidential Diversity Fellow during the 2021-22 academic year, is an inaugural recipient of the Provost's Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

"As a Presidential Diversity Fellow, I 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," Johnson says. "The project was very insightful and demonstrated the necessity of an explicit, integrated, strategic, whole-system approach to DePaul's DEI efforts. In total, 90 academic and non-academic units participated in the project, and several have begun to develop unit-level DEI plans."

"I would like to continue the work I started last year, enhance the training for search committees and supplement the 'exit interview' with a 'stay interview' process that encourages retention of diverse faculty," Johnson adds.

Johnson earned a B.A. in political science at North Carolina A&T State University, an M.A. in, political science at Atlanta University; and holds a Ph.D. in government and politics from the University of Maryland. She has been a member of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences faculty since 2003. Now an associate professor in the college, she has served as chair of the Department of Political Science and, since 2021, as the Endowed Professor of Urban Diplomacy in the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy.

Johnson will succeed Cindy Pickett, an associate professor in psychology in the College of Science and Health, who has served as the associate provost for diversity and inclusion at DePaul since July 2020. During her tenure, Pickett facilitated implicit bias training for hundreds of faculty and search committee members. The diversity of the university's faculty hires has risen, with the latest cohort being 51 percent faculty of color. This fall she launched a faculty mentoring program that ensures assistant professors are given mentorship opportunities through their college or school.

"I thank Cindy for her many contributions to DePaul," Ghanem says. "We wish her well in her future endeavors."

The timeline for the associate provost search will be released once available.