A Quartet of Black Scholars Who Are Taking on New Assignments

Sylvester Johnson, a professor of religion, assistant vice provost for the humanities, and founding director of the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities, has been promoted to associate vice provost for public interest technology. In this role, Dr. Johnson will build and activate consensus across disciplines and colleges for research, teaching, and public engagement.

Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Florida A&M University, where he majored in chemistry education. He holds master’s degrees in systematic theology and contemporary religious thought as well as a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

LaQuandra Nesbitt, an expert in population health and leader in advancing health equity initiatives, was named to the first Bicentennial Endowed Professorship in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at George Washington University. She was also named executive director of the new Center for Population Health Sciences and Health Equity and senior associate dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Since 2015, Dr. Nesbitt has served as the director of the District of Columbia Department of Health.

Dr. Nesbitt is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she majored in biochemistry. She earned her medical degree at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and added a master of public health degree from Harvard University.

Lorgia García Peña was named professor in the Effron Center for the Study of America and the department of African American Studies at Princeton University, effective July 1. Her research focuses on race and colonialism and Afro-Latinx studies. She has been serving as the Mellon Professor in Studies of Race, Colonialism and Diaspora at Tufts University since 2021. Previously, she was a faculty member at Harvard University from 2013 to 2021. Earlier, Dr. García Peña was an assistant professor at the University of Georgia from 2010-13. She is the author of several books including Community as Rebellion: A Syllabus for Surviving Academia as a Woman of Color (Haymarket, 2022).

Dr. García Peña earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Rutgers University in New Jersey and a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan.

Kyaien Conner was appointed director of the Center for Race and Social Problems at the University of Pittsburgh. She has been serving as an associate professor of mental health law and policy at the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on racial trauma and minority health disparities.

Dr. Conner earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Africana studies, master’s degrees in social work and public health, and a doctorate in social work, all from the University of Pittsburgh.

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