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Dr. Royel M. Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. He is also Director of Student Engagement in the USC Race and Equity Center and a faculty member in the Pullias Center for Higher Education.

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All with attention to its intersections with race, gender, and other axes of social inequality.

Dr. Johnson is a nationally recognized scholar, whose interdisciplinary research addresses issues of educational access, racial equity, and student success. His work has an unapologetic focus on Black and multiply marginalized populations like those impacted by the criminal punishment, child welfare, and inequitable educational systems.


Dr. Johnson is author of more than 40 academic publications. His scholarship appears in the Journal of Higher Education, Journal of College Student Development, Urban Education, Professional School Counseling Journal, and several other respected, peer-reviewed journals. In addition, Dr. Johnson has been awarded more than $5.1 million in grants and contracts from the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, Spencer Foundation, U.S. Department of Health Resources and Services Administration, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and several other funders. Dr. Johnson is deeply committed to translational research that informs policy and practice. For example, in 2020, Pennsylvania legislators sought his consultation on the development of H.B. 2952, which aims to ban the use of criminal record screening on college applications. 


In February 2022, SUNY Press will publish “Racial Equity on College Campuses: Connecting Research and Practice”—a book he co-edited with Drs. Uju Anya (Carnegie Mellon University) and Liliana Garces (University of Texas at Austin). His other forthcoming book projects include: “Enacting Student Success: Critical and Alternative Perspectives for Practice” (Jossey-Bass) and “Family Matters: How Youth in Foster Care Access College” (Teachers College Press). 


For his early-career accomplishments, Dr. Johnson received the ACPA—College Student Educators International’s Emerging Scholar Award in 2020; and the 2021 Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award, recognizing “exemplary leadership” in PSU’s College of Education. Dr. 
Johnson holds a B.A. in Political Science and Ed.M. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs, with a cognate in Race and Social Policy from The Ohio State University.

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