Royel M. Johnson, PhD
- Associate Professor
- Higher Education
PhD, Higher Education and Student Affairs, The Ohio State University
- Racial Equity • Education Access • Student Success • Education Policy • Carcerality in Education • Foster Care • Juvenile Justice
Websites and Social Media
Dr. Royel M. Johnson is Associate Professor of Higher Education with tenure in the USC Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. He is also the inaugural Director of Student Engagement in the USC Race and Equity Center and a faculty affiliate in the Pullias Center for Higher Education. Prior to joining USC, he was on the faculty at Penn State, where he was the inaugural Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education.
Dr. Johnson is a nationally recognized expert on 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. He has more than 40 peer-reviewed publications in influential journals such as the Journal of Higher Education, Peabody Journal of Education, Teachers College Record and Journal of College Student Development. He has also written research and policy briefs for organizations like the National Education Policy Center, Office of Community College Research and Leadership and NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
In February 2022, SUNY Press will publish Racial Equity on College Campuses: Connecting Research and Practice, a book for which Dr. Johnson is lead editor. He is also co-editor of a forthcoming monograph with Jossey-Bass, Enacting Student Success: Critical and Alternative Perspectives for Practice, and is currently writing his first sole-authored book, Family Matters: How Youth in Foster Care Access College, which will be published by Teachers College Record. Dr. Johnson has been awarded over $5.1 million in grants and contracts from organizations such as the Spencer Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences (IES), and Department of Health and Human Services, among others.
Dr. Johnson is deeply committed to translational research that informs policy and practice. He has delivered over 100 invited talks and regularly consults with campuses and national organizations. In 2020, Pennsylvania legislators sought his consultation on HB2952, which aims to ban the use of criminal record screening on college applications. He is Co-Director of the EdEquity Research-to-Policy Collaborative with Dr. Francesca Lopez (Penn State)—a rapid response network designed to increase the use of research by critically conscious education scholars in policy making. Dr. Johnson is also Co-PI of a $1.53 million project funded by IES, The Research Institute for Scholars of Equity (RISE), which is a training program that provides undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds experiences in conducting mixed-methods education research and prepares them for doctoral study.
Johnson is actively engaged in national/professional service. For instance, he is an appointed member of the American Educational Research Association’s Social Justice Action Committee (2021–2024) and Co-Program Chair for Division J’s Section 2B: College Student Success (2021–2022). He also serves on the Dissertation of the Year Committee (2019–2022) for the Association for the Study of Higher Education. He has been or is currently serving on eight editorial boards, including those of the Review of Higher Education, Frontiers in Education and Journal of African American Males in Education.
In recognition of Dr. Johnson’s outstanding early-career achievements, he was awarded the 2020 Distinguished Young Alumni Award from the University of Illinois. He has also received the 2020 Emerging Scholar Award and 2022 Outstanding Contribution to Multicultural Education and Research Award from ACPA—College Educators International. In recognition of his “exemplary leadership” in Penn State’s College of Education, he was awarded the 2021 Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award.
Dr. Johnson is a two-time graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned a BA in Political Science and an EdM in Educational Policy Studies. He earned his PhD in higher education and student affairs, with a cognate in race and social policy, from The Ohio State University.
Awards and Grants
2022 AERA Division G Early Career Award
2022 AERA Multicultural/Multiethnic Education SIG's Dr. Carlos J. Vallejo Memorial Award for Emerging Scholarship
2022 ACPA’s Outstanding Contribution to Multicultural Education and Research Award
2021 Penn State College of Education Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award
2021 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow Semi-finalist
2020 University of Illinois College of Education Young Alumni Award
2020 ACPA Emerging Scholar-Designee
- Taylor, L.D. & Johnson, R.M. (Eds.) (2022). Enacting student success: Critical and alternative perspectives for practice, New Directions for Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Johnson, R.M. (2022) A socio-ecological perspective on sense of belonging among racially/ethnically minoritized college students: Implications for equity-minded practice and policy. In L.D. Taylor. & R.M. Johnson (Eds.), Enacting student success: Critical and alternative perspectives for practice, New Directions for Higher Education (pp. 59-68). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Johnson, R. M., & Strayhorn, T. L. (2022). Examining race and racism in Black men doctoral student socialization: A critical race mixed methods analysis. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education.
- Johnson, R.M., Anya, U., & Garces, L.M. (Eds.) (2022). Racial equity on college campuses: Connecting research and practice. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
- Brown, N. P., Johnson, R.M., & Strayhorn, T.L., Pagoto, S., Waring, M.E.,Palmer, L., Lewis, K.A., & Workman, D. (2022). Psychosocial impacts of #BlackLivesMatter protests and police killings on undergraduate students in STEM. Teachers College Record.
- López, F.A., Johnson, R.M. Ward, L.A., & Patterson, A.N. (2021) How do education researchers contest the anti-Critical Race Theory propaganda? Teachers College Record. https://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=23865
- Savage, S.S., Johnson, R.M., Kenney, A.J., & Haynes, D.D. (2021) Perspectives on conducting humanizing and liberatory qualitative research with racially minoritized youth. Health Care, 9(10), 317. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9101317
- Johnson, R.M. & *Dizon, J.P. (2021). Toward a conceptualization of the college-to-prison nexus. Peabody Journal of Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956X.2021.1991692
- Johnson, R.M. (2021). Academic resilience among Black male college students formerly in foster care: Implications for school counselors. Professional School Counseling Journal, 25(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156759X211040003
- López, F., Molnar, A., Johnson, R.M., Ward, L.A, Patterson, A.N., & Kumashiro, K. (2021). Understanding the attacks on Critical Race Theory. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.
- Johnson, R.M. (2021). Black youth in foster care and the school-prison nexus. Feature: The community college context. Champaign, IL: Office of Community College Research and Leadership. https://doi.org/ 10.13140/RG.2.2.16430.43843/2
- Johnson, R.M. & Davis, J.E. (2021). Advancing racial equity in education in the carceral state. Peabody Journal of Education. 96(5), 491-493 https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956X.2021.2016101
- Johnson, R.M., Alvarado, R.E., & Rosinger, K.O. (2021). What’s the “problem” of considering criminal history in college admissions? A critical analysis of “Ban the Box” policies in Louisiana and Maryland. Journal of Higher Education. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2020.1870849
- Johnson, R.M. (2021). The state of research on undergraduate youth formerly in foster care: A systematic review of literature. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 14(1), 147-160. https://doi.org/10.1037/dhe0000150
- Dowd, A. & Johnson, R.M. (2020). Why do systematic review?: A reader’s and editor’s perspective. In O. Zawacki-Richter, S.B. Kerres, M. Bond, & K. Buntiens (Eds.), Systematic reviews in educational research: Methodology, perspectives and application (pp. 69-87). Wiesbaden, Germany: Springer, VS.
- Johnson, R.M., Strayhorn, T.L., & Parler, B.A. (2020). “I just want to be a regular kid:” A qualitative study of sense of belonging high school youth in high school in foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 111. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.104832
- Johnson, R.M. (2020). Five things student affairs professionals can do to support justice-involved college students. Washington, DC: NASPA. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.26238.61765
- Oseguera, L., Park, H, J., De Los Rios, M.J., Aparicio, E., & Johnson, R.M. (2019). Examining the role of scientific identity in Black student retention in a STEM scholar program. Journal of Negro Education, 88(33), 229-248. https://doi.org/10.7709/jnegroeducation.88.3.0229
- Johnson, R.M., Strayhorn, T.L., & Travers, C.S. (2019). Exploring the academic advising experiences of Black males at an urban university: An exploratory case study. Urban Education. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085919894048
- Johnson, R.M. & Strayhorn, T.L. (2019). Preparing youth in foster care for college through an early outreach program. Journal of College Student Development, 60(5), 612-616. https://doi.org/10.1353/csd.2019.0051
- Johnson, R.M. (2015). Measuring the influence of juvenile arrest on the odds of four-year college enrollment for Black males: An NLSY analysis. Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men, 4(1), 49-72. https://doi.org/10.2979/spectrum.4.1.04
- Strayhorn, T.L., & Johnson, R.M. (2014). Why are all the White students sitting together in college? Impact of Brown v. Board of Education on cross-racial interactions among Blacks and Whites. Journal of Negro Education, 83(3), 385-399. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7709/jnegroeducation.88.3.0229
- Strayhorn, T.L., & Johnson, R.M. (2014). Toward a model of professional identity: A preliminary study of Black men. The NASAP Journal, 15(2), 59-74.
- Strayhorn, T.L., & Johnson, R.M. (2014). Black female community college students’ satisfaction: A national regression analysis. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 38, 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/10668926.2013.866060
- Johnson, R. M. (2013). Black and male on campus: An autoethnographic account. Journal of African American Men in Education, 4(2), 25-45.
- Strayhorn, T.L., Johnson, R.M., & Barrett, B.A. (2013). Investigating the adjustment and transition experiences of formerly incarcerated African American males at PWIs. Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men, 2(1), 73-98. https://doi.org/10.2979/spectrum.2.1.73