Duke engineering dean will be first woman in JHU’s No. 2 job
Kristina M. Johnson, dean of Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, has been appointed provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at The Johns Hopkins University.
Johnson, an electrical engineer with 40 patents and co-founder of several start-up companies, will take office as the university’s 12th provost on Sept. 1. She will be the first woman to hold Johns Hopkins' second-ranking position.
“Kristina Johnson is a passionate, visionary, highly accomplished teacher, scholar and academic administrator,” said President William R. Brody, who recommended the appointment to the executive committee of the university’s board of trustees.
“She has a keen appreciation for the extraordinarily important role of the research university in our society,” Brody said. “She has a deeply felt commitment to our role as university administrators: providing an environment where students can flourish and faculty can go about the business of making this a better world.”
Johnson succeeds Steven Knapp, the provost since 1996, who is leaving Johns Hopkins to become president of The George Washington University on Aug. 1. Donald M. Steinwachs, a professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, will serve as interim provost until Johnson’s arrival on campus. “I'm very excited,” Johnson said. “To have the opportunity to serve a great university at a broader level is extremely appealing.”
As chief academic officer, the provost is focused in part on promoting faculty quality, Johnson said.
“Any great institution starts with the faculty,” she said. “They attract the students. Along with chairs and deans, they do the great work of the university. My role is to look for opportunities to support and promote our outstanding faculty and staff.”
Johnson said that one of her strengths has been bringing together faculty experts from a wide range of disciplines to attack important problems from different angles. As a faculty member at the University of Colorado, Boulder, she involved engineers, mathematicians, physicists, chemists and even psychologists in working to make computers faster and better connected. As engineering dean at Duke, she helped to set up interdisciplinary efforts in photonics, bioengineering and biologically inspired materials, and energy and the environment.
“If you look at being competitive as a country in the 21st century, the problems are far more complex than in the past,” Johnson said. Advice from economists and policy experts can help avoid scientific advances from getting ahead of society, she said. On the other hand, science and technology have important contributions to make in furthering the study of the arts and humanities.
“What better place to look at this kind of integration than Johns Hopkins?” Johnson said. “It’s critical to the university as a whole that we have great liberal arts, great engineering and great professional schools.” Johnson, 50, graduated from Stanford University in 1981 with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in electrical engineering. She earned her Ph.D. at Stanford in 1984.
She was on the faculty at Colorado from 1985 to 1999, earning a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award and winning promotion to professor. From 1993 to 1997, she directed an NSF Engineering Research Center for Optoelectronic Computing Systems run jointly by Colorado and Colorado State.
Since 1999, when she became dean, Duke's Pratt School has undergone significant growth in both size and quality. Of 50 new faculty members recruited during her tenure, 14 have won early career “young investigator” awards. The undergraduate student body has grown 20 percent and strong graduate programs have doubled in size.
Johnson oversaw planning, funding and construction of the 322,000-square-foot Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine and Applied Sciences. The school's research expenditures have tripled to $60 million and the endowment has grown from $20 million to $200 million.
"Kristina Johnson has been a transformational dean of engineering at Duke and a lively contributor to the larger university community,” said Duke President Richard H. Brodhead. “She is a person of great positive energy that inspires those around her. We'll hate to see her go, but are delighted to see her talents recognized with these new challenges and responsibilities."
Johnson is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Optical Society of America. In 2003, she was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame. In 2004, she won the Achievement Award of the Society of Women Engineers.
With more than 140 published articles, she is best known in research circles for pioneering work in the field of "smart pixel arrays," which has applications in displays, pattern recognition and high resolution sensors, including cameras.
Note: A photograph of Johnson is available. Contact Dennis O'Shea at email@example.com or 443-287-9960.
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