Prior to her faculty position, Professor Johnson spent many years supporting students of color in higher education through her work in admissions and recruitment, multicultural affairs, academic advising, and living-learning communities. She teaches courses on college student development theory, principles and practices of student affairs administration, gender and race in higher education, and has taught undergraduate courses on diversity in education and community leadership.
Johnson’s research focuses on students of color in science and engineering, with special attention to the experiences of women of color. This research interest came from her work in multicultural affairs at a science and engineering university, where she developed and implemented recruitment and retention programs for Black/African American, Latino, and Native American students. Johnson is currently involved in a collaborative research project with the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment (OIRA) at Syracuse University, which examined the experiences of students of color on campus. This collaboration resulted in the Syracuse University (SU) Student Experience Survey that focused on the perceptions students had of the environment in the classroom, residence hall, and campus overall. The survey also gathered data on interactions with peers and faculty, sources of stress, and students’ reasons for choosing the University and their reasons for staying or leaving. Dawn is paying particular attention to how students of color in science and engineering report their perceptions and experiences of their classes and major. Johnson and her colleagues from OIRA have presented findings from the project to key stakeholders on campus and at national conferences. The project is a model for bringing together faculty expertise with administrative resources to help an institution address issues related to student success.
Johnson has presented her research in a variety of forums, including the American Chemical Association’s symposium on women of color in science, the Association for Institutional Research, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, and the National Science Foundation’s STEP grantees meeting.
Johnson is an active member of the American College Personnel Association, serving on the directorate for the Commission for Professional Preparation, and recognized as an Emerging Scholar and awarded an Annuit Coeptis Award for Emerging Professionals.