New CPP CLASS Dean Camille Su-Lin Johnson

By Julia DeFoe, Nov. 14, 2023

There has been a new addition to the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences: Dean Camille Johnson. Joining the Cal Poly Pomona campus community over the summer, Johnson is excited for the new opportunities and projects ahead of her.

Growing up in Claremont with close relatives attending CPP, Johnson is no stranger to the CPP community. With memories spanning back to the beginning of her relationship with her now husband, she shared that one of her first dates with her husband was attending the “Into the Woods” production at the CPP drama theater. Likewise, her now father-in-law worked as a faculty member at CPP for 35 years. Considering her long history with the campus, it has only made this transition to the position of dean smoother.

Attending Carleton College, a university in Minnesota, Johnson graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology. Newly graduated, she pursued teaching middle school language arts in Seattle as a part of the program “Teach for America.” After two years teaching, she decided to return home and attend Claremont Graduate University to obtain her master’s degree before traveling to Ohio State University to earn a doctorate in social psychology.

After graduating with her doctorate Johnson ran her own research lab at Stanford University for about two years. Before Johnson joined CPP, she worked for San Jose State for 16 years in varying positions, primarily geared toward teaching leadership and management.

“Life is long, and there’s plenty of time to explore and to figure out what fits you best and where you can be happy and where you’ll be happy and successful,” said Johnson. “It’s not about a race to be the first ones to finish everything.”

A friend came across the job advertisement looking for a new dean for CLASS and sent it to Johnson. She shared every step further into the interview process felt more and more “meant to be” at the time.

Dr. Johnson shares that her own mother is a first generation immigrant, and that Johnson was an only child herself. A Communications Specialist in the Department of Strategic Communications, Melanie Johnson, wrote an article on Dr. Johnson around the time of her onboarding.

“Through her research, Johnson has examined a range of topics from interracial interactions to first-generation college student performance to analyses of women’s representation in the social sciences,” Melanie said.

She loves that CPP does things differently, and the campus emphasizes the concept of “learn by doing.” Watching her son, a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo majoring in architectural engineering, only reaffirmed her love for huge schools, pushing her toward a future at CPP.

Dean Camille Johnson applauds during speech. | Cal Poly Pomona

Johnson is replacing the previous Interim Dean, David Horner, who is now in the position of associate dean of Academic Personnel and Resources.

Johnson is grateful for the opportunity to build collaborations and connections between both staff and students. She is looking forward to being a part of the process of integrating the campus together through her work for the CLASS departments, such as the upcoming Geographic Information System Lab Day Nov. 15, which is hosted by CLASS.

“I would love to find ways in which we can collaborate and sort of work together to create innovative ideas and just be a team,” said Johnson. Finding ways to create teams among the other colleges is an important goal of Johnson’s.

Johnson is now the fourth CLASS dean in four years. Johnson is committed to putting in the time and effort to get to know faculty, staff and students in order to improve connections and collaborations among the college.

Manny Ainza, the GIS lab director commented on Johnson’s acclimation to the new role in the department.

“She is (settling in), excellently in fact,” said Ainza. “She’s very strong in her role and is advocating for the college in many ways. She is not one to just stand by and give orders. She really gets in there and gets it done.”

While still getting settled in her new position at CPP, Johnson is committed to finding out more about the CPP campus and community each day. Her goal is to share with prospective students just how unique the CPP experience can be.

Feature Image Courtesy of Cal Poly Pomona

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