Vanderbilt University Bestows a Further Honor on Its First Black Graduate

Bishop_Joseph_Johnson1Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, has announced the establishment of the Joseph A. Johnson Jr. Distinguished Leadership Professor Award. 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. The winner will receive a cash award and an engraved silver tray.

In 1953, Joseph A. Johnson was the first African American to be admitted to Vanderbilt University. In 1954, Johnson became the first African American to earn a Vanderbilt degree. In 1958, he also was the first African American to earn a doctoral degree at Vanderbilt. In 1971, he was the second African American to serve on the university’s board of trustees. In 1984, Vanderbilt’s Black Cultural Center was named in his honor.

Nicholas S. Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, stated that “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.”


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