Royel Johnson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Rossier School of Education University of Southern California

Dr. Royel M. Johnson is one of the nation's foremost voices on diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. A tenured professor at the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education, he chairs the Rossier PhD program and directs the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) at the USC Race and Equity Center, a premiere survey enterprise for evaluating racial climates on campuses nationally.

Johnson has authored over 60 academic papers and chapters, including three books: “Racial Equity on College Campuses: Connecting Research and Practice” (SUNY Press), “Enacting Student Success: Critical and “Alternative Perspectives for Practice” (Jossey-Bass) and “Creating New Possibilities for the Future of HBCUs” (Information Age). His forthcoming books, “The Big Lie About Race in America’s Schools” and “From Foster Care to College: Navigating Challenges and Creating Possibilities,” are set for fall release by Harvard Education Press and Teachers College Press, respectively.

His research, funded by organizations like the U.S. Department of Education, Spencer Foundation, Walmart Foundation, and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, has garnered $6.3 million in support. He is Co-Editor of Educational Researcher, the flagship journal for the American Education Research Association (AERA)

For his contributions to research and practice, Dr. Johnson has been repeatedly recognized by his professional associations including being named a 2024 Diamond Honoree by ACPA—College Student Educators International and an Emerging Scholar by them in 2020. From AERA, he received the 2022 Early Career Award from Division G. The Los Angeles Times also recognized Dr. Johnson as a DEI Visionary in 2023, highlighting his contributions to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in Southern California and beyond.

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