Jarrel T. Johnson portrait
  • Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership&Policy

Research Summary

Dr. Johnson investigates issues of college student identities and higher education leadership and change across various institutional contexts. Currently, Dr. Johnson’s research agenda focuses on how institutional stakeholders (e.g., senior leadership, student affairs administrators, and faculty) at HBCUs facilitate organizational change that is inclusive of queer and trans* students by employing higher education change and Black queer theory frameworks.


  • Bachelor of Arts , English, Shaw University
  • Master of Education, Higher Education Leadership, Mercer University
  • Doctor of Philosophy , Higher Education Administration , Iowa State University


Dr. Jarrel T. Johnson is an Assistant Professor, Higher Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. Further, Dr. Johnson is a scholar-practitioner whose scholarship and educational practice is guided by critical identity, higher education leadership, and organizational change theories. Namely, Dr. Johnson's research examines how administrators at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) work to promote the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students. As a Presidential Scholar and 2020 National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Dissertation fellow at Iowa State University, he focused his dissertation on investigating institutional practices and policies that promoted the inclusion of Black queer and trans* collegians attending HBCUs. Consequently, Dr. Johnson constructed the Model for Transformational Change at HBCUs (MTI at HBCUs) to assist HBCU administrators in designing and executing inclusion efforts for Black LGBTQ students on their respective campuses.

Previously, Dr. Johnson served as a Research and Evaluation Officer at the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation. In this role, Dr. Johnson oversaw large-scale and complex research and evaluation projects aimed at increasing public college access and success for students from diverse backgrounds (e.g., first-generation, low socioeconomic, racially minoritized). Dr. Johnson has an extensive higher education background in designing and implementing student success programs, policies, and services to maximize overall collegiate success. In particular, Dr. Johnson has held higher education administrative appointments at Cornell University, Iowa State University, Emory University, and Morehouse College. These roles involved developing and implementing academic and student engagement initiatives to increase the retention and graduation for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Dr. Johnson earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration (with a minor in women’s and gender studies) from Iowa State University and a M.Ed. in higher education leadership from Mercer University. He also holds a B.A. in English from Shaw University, the oldest HBCU in the South.