Johnson named Dean of Graduate School

Posted March 31, 2014

By Emily Seidel

Article from The Optimist

Dr. Stephen Johnson, dean of the Honors College, has been named dean of the Graduate School. He will step into the position at the beginning of the summer, replacing Carly Dodd, professor of communication, who has been serving in the position.

Johnson has been a faculty member since 2001. He is an associate professor of ministry and director of contextual education in the Graduate School of Theology. He has also taught upper-level preaching and worship classes in the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry.

He attended ACU for his undergraduate and graduate studies, which include a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies in 1990, a master of divinity degree in 1996 and a doctor of ministry degree in 2000. In 2007, he got his doctor of theology degree from the University of Toronto, after which he was drawn back to Abilene. Johnson said he feels blessed to be able to give back to the school that gave him so much.

“ACU was significant to me in shaping my life as an undergraduate student and forming my career,” Johnson said. “And now, it’s not so much about the programs for me, but about the faculty and the opportunities I’ve received here at ACU.”

Since starting at ACU, Johnson has been a part of the Senior Blessing, a tradition that started in 1999. He has also taken part in the Freshman Blessing since it started three years ago. In addition to all the work he did at the university, he was also the preacher at Buffalo Gap Church of Christ for the last five years before stepping down in December 2013.

Johnson is still scheduled to teach one or two courses in the fall in addition to his new responsibilities. Meanwhile, Jason Morris, the current associate dean of the Honors College, will replace Johnson as dean of the Honors College when the summer begins. Also an alum of ACU, Morris received his master’s degree in 1996 after earning his bachelor’s degree at Pepperdine University in 1994.

Dodd, who earned his master’s degree from ACU in 1971, has been a professor of communications here since 1981 as well as the graduate dean 1991-1998 and 2010-2014. His 33-year career features a long list of honors and accomplishments, including the formation of the College of Academic Enhancement and a new degree completion program resulting in 250 new students. He is vacating the position to take a paid retirement, but he is still scheduled to teach a few classes in the Department of Communication next year. Johnson said he has a vague concept of what he hopes to accomplish once he steps into Dodd’s position.

“It will be important for ACU to grow and enhance its graduate programs,” he said. “We will be developing the strategies and growth of the professional programs, but I can’t say right now exactly how we’re going to carry that out. It’ll take a little time.”


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