2020 Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award Recipient Dr. Leonissa Johnson


Dr. Leonissa Johnson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Counselor Education in the School of Education, has been named the 2020 Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award Recipient. Dr. Johnson, is also Director of the HBCU Center for Excellence in Behavioral Health/HBCU C.A.R.E.S. grant, housed in the School of Education. 

Dr. Johnson has worked as a school counselor and educator since 2005.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in History from Hampton University, a Master of Arts in School Counseling from North Carolina Central University and a Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling and Student Services from the University of Georgia. Additionally, Dr. Johnson is a National Certified Counselor. 

The Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award recognizes an outstanding faculty member who demonstrates strong academic skills in the classroom and provides leadership and support in other areas of campus life. This prestigious award, carries a monetary gift of $1,000.00 and is sponsored by the Vulcan Materials Company.  Established in 1991, the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award honors an outstanding professor from one of the member campuses of the Georgia Independent College Association. 

The Office of Provost Committee for the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award, is chaired by Dr. Barbara Hill, Interim Associate Dean, Department Chair & Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, School of Education.

The Dean of the School of Education, Dr. J. Fidel Turner, offered the following commentary about Dr. Johnson:

“In all capacities (faculty, administrator, practitioner, researcher, scholar and professional colleague), Dr. Johnson’s knowledge base, leadership skills and altruistic nature are indisputable.  She is a true scholar and collaborator as evidenced by the completion of scholarly works to include book chapters, refereed articles and invited conference presentations with diverse local, regional, national and international professional organizations and other key stakeholders.

Due to Dr. Johnson's vision and leadership, Clark Atlanta University was the only institution to receive a recent Health and Human Services (HHS) grant, with a total award of $1,804,697 to establish a new center of excellence for the University called HBCU C.A.R.E.S. (Career Awareness, Recruitment and Engagement Services) for Behavioral Health. The program was officially launched on September 30, 2018, with a first-year budget of $213,333 to fund the program's initial development. The grant is administered by HHS’s Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, whose mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.  Dr. Johnson has set up a career awareness advisory council that engages the 10 HBCUs that currently have behavioral health programs and will eventually create a network of faculty across all HBCUs. To share information with the larger public, a website has been created that serves as a national clearinghouse of behavioral health information and related resources. 

In her faculty role, Dr. Johnson has contributed and accomplished a great deal in a brief amount of time.  She has successfully engaged with the counseling/mental health and P-12 education community within the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.  She maintains an engaging interactive classroom with established relationships with her students, in which, she encourages them attend and present at both national and local conferences to promote their research and personal/professional growth.  Additionally, she has provided critical leadership and diligent direction as the co-lead for the School Counseling program at CAU.  Dean Turner further states, Dr. Johnson exemplifies high standards, and has worked tirelessly to advance the School of Education’s strategic priorities.  She is a person of vision and commitment who is trustworthy, ethical, consistent and able to build esprit de corps.”