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July 1, 2015

Dear Clark Atlanta University Community:

Prseident JohnsonAs the fourth president of Clark Atlanta University (CAU), I am tremendously enthusiastic about the future of this historic institution.  Of course, I heartily embrace the sentiment, shared by all college presidents, that educating young scholars and leaders is its own reward.  But I especially look forward to taking on this charge at a university whose very foundation was forged during a signature period of transition in our country--in the shadow of the Civil War, an existential threat to the United States of America—with the firm knowledge among newly freed slaves that education would be the centerpiece of their advancement in a new world where the shape and promise of the future was yet to unfold.

We are, arguably, now at a similar point of transition and uncertainty across the globe:

  • Constant innovation in all arenas is a prerequisite for sustained growth and relevance;
  • Technology, as never before, is the essential armature that enables and enhances human endeavor;
  • Environmental degradation poses a particularly pressing existential challenge;
  • The readjustment of global power structures, and the tensions between centers of prosperity and paucity—in the US and abroad—-threaten domestic and global stability
  • A broad, multidisciplinary perspective—the hallmark of a liberal arts education--is now critical to navigating the waters of change in an increasingly interdependent world.
Particularly against this backdrop, the combined 300 years of scholarship, activism and legacy-building at CAU are truly an inspiration and set the foundation for what I believe the University can be as we look ahead: an institution of higher education that distinguishes itself by leading the way in DEFINING THE FUTURE!

In the 21st century, CAU’s sustained relevance and vibrancy as a premier institution of higher education and learning is inextricably bound to the ingenuity, work and foresight of the faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters. These attributes are the hallmark of our University and have always been guided by wisdom drawn from an understanding of “the art of the possible.”

Today at CAU:
  • World-renown researchers are engaged in breakthrough discoveries and innovations, stemming from efforts to ensure the eradication of prostate cancer in the Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development to the development of more fuel-efficient automobiles in CAU’s High Performance Polymers and Composites Center.
  • CAU faculty from all disciplines continue to be invited to participate in national and international forums.
  • Our students continue to receive recognition for their scholarship and research, from organizations ranging from the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, the National Science Foundation and the National Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students; to the Clinton Global Initiative and the Southern Regional Press Institute.
  • A major reformulation of the curriculum—“STEAM”—along with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development, will fully integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics with the liberal arts and, thereby, imbue students with the cross-disciplinary skills they need to become thought leaders, innovators, pioneers and entrepreneurs to create and lead the industries of tomorrow.
  • A major emphasis will soon be placed on developing an institute to promote an inclusionary teaching, research and development ecosystem that will improve the numbers of underrepresented populations in the innovative sectors of tomorrow.

The level of mobilization required to meet the challenges of the future involves a heightened commitment from the entire CAU family and its friends, with an urgency that is merited by the nobility and necessity of our cause.  Your help is needed if the University is to fulfill its aspirations to broaden and deepen its important work and I am asking you to support this effort to effectively cultivate and harvest the intellect, talent and drive that define our academic and research endeavors during this period of global transition. Some 150 years after our founding, MOBILIZING FOR THE FUTURE retains the resonance it did at the seminal moments of CAU’s journey.  I invite you to help me lead this charge.

President Ronald A. Johnson, Ph.D.
Clark Atlanta University