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Johnson selected to lead CHRE

By David Nutter

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 35 - July 11, 1996

Janet M. Johnson, interim dean of the College of Human Resources, has been appointed dean of the newly formed College of Human Resources and Education. Johnson assumed her duties July 1.

"This is an exciting year for Virginia Tech's programs in education and human resources. July 1 marks the official merger of the two colleges to form the College of Human Resources and Education. Now, we are welcoming a new dean, whose leadership, experience, and vision will enhance the synergy of these disciplines, facilitate collaboration among the faculty members, and broaden opportunities for students," said Provost Peggy Meszaros.

In a message to the faculty and staff, Meszaros said, "Dr. Johnson has accepted the offer and has negotiated several initiatives for the newly merged college. As a result, the university will be supporting priority for the college in several distance-education and technology initiatives and providing $100,000 annually in 1996-97 and 1997-98 to support collaborative ventures for faculty work as the college develops new thrusts in instruction, research, and outreach."

Johnson brings to the position a wide range of academic and administrative experience. A graduate of Purdue University, she earned master's and doctoral degrees in foods and nutrition from Cornell University. She joined the Department of Human Nutrition and Foods at Virginia Tech in 1972. During the years that followed she was a nutrition consultant for a federally funded program with the North Carolina State Department of Education, and a visiting instructor at Meredith College.

From 1977 through 1983, Johnson took leave from her job at Tech to raise a family, but remained active in professional organizations such as the American Association of Family and Consumer Services (AAFCS), Institute of Food Technologists, and Phi Kappa Phi honor society. In 1983, she returned to Tech, teaching courses in experimental foods, sensory evaluation, and orientation to research.

In 1992, Johnson entered higher-education administration as acting associate provost for research at Virginia Tech. She has served as interim dean of the College of Human Resources since 1995, when Meszaros, then dean of the college, was appointed Tech's provost. During that time, Johnson directed all academic and administrative aspects of the five-department college, and was instrumental in the discussions and negotiations which led to the merger of human resources and education programs.

A prolific researcher and writer, Johnson has produced an impressive collection of papers and articles on innovative food production and uses. She has collaborated with plant geneticists, soil specialists, and agricultural economists on projects with sponsoring agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Virginia Small Grains Board, the Virginia Cattleman's Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the American Association of Cereal Chemists, and the Southern Agricultural Scientists. This weekend, she will receive the Borden Award, the highest recognition in the field of food and nutrition research, from the AAFCS.

The merger of the colleges of Education and Human Resources became effective July 1, 1996, with the transition slated for completion by July 1, 1998. Together, the mission of the newly formed College of Human Resources and Education will reflect Human Resources' commitment to enhance the quality of individual, family, and community well-being, as well as Education's commitment to the improvement of educational policy and practice.

Johnson said her interest in the dean's position is based on the outstanding reputations of both colleges. "The merger will create even greater abundance. There is a long history of collegial relationships and cooperation that will easily become seamless collaborations. I will find great satisfaction in facilitating the building of the new College of Human Resources and Education and empowering the faculty and staff to be part of a `one-of-a-kind' internationally recognized organization," Johnson said.

Shortly after the merger of the colleges of Human Resources and Education was announced in January, 1996, the Dean's Search Committee was reformed to include representation of both disciplines. The 16-member committee, chaired by Patricia Edwards, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, completed the initial phases of the dean's search in March. Four candidates were invited for on-campus interviews.