Dr. Mack Johnson, associate vice president for Graduate Studies, Research and International Programs and professor of biology at California State University, Northridge, passed away on June 6.
“This is a very difficult and painful loss for the university and for me personally,” said Harry Hellenbrand, Cal State Northridge’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “The university has lost a dedicated and effective administrator who advocated for international relationships and students, graduate programs and research. His career spans an era during which the university has undergone tremendous growth and a significant rise in its profile. He changed and moved forward with the campus without ever forgetting the core values of service and commitment this institution were founded on. I speak for his many friends and colleagues on campus and the community when I say he will be greatly missed both professionally and personally.”
Johnson, appointed to his position in 1988 by then-President James Cleary, was a respected administrator and advocate for students who wished to pursue graduate studies. He also was an internationalist who provided support and encouragement for international students, visiting scholars from other countries and international faculty who taught at Cal State Northridge. As a proponent for strong partnerships with universities and colleges overseas and international exchange programs, he helped establish more than 50 cooperative agreements between Cal State Northridge and overseas institutions. He was responsible for overseeing nearly 60 master’s degree programs and one educational doctorate program and a doctorate in physical therapy program that had more than 6,000 post baccalaureate and graduate students enrolled. He also was responsible for the management of research projects and grants totaling more than $26 million.
Johnson arrived at Cal State Northridge with an extensive background in teaching, research and academic administration. His research interests and publications focused on autoimmune diseases and immunopathologic mechanisms involved in diseases caused by infectious agents. He conducted his teaching and research in the U.S. and overseas, including at the world-renowned International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases in Kenya and the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine in the Sudan and Kenya. He also gave lectures at CSUN’s sister universities in China.
He received a baccalaureate degree in biology from Virginia Union University, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Tuskegee University and a doctorate in veterinary and comparative pathology from Washington State University. He served as a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow while pursuing his Ph.D. degree. He held faculty positions at Tuskegee University, University of California, Davis and Washington State prior to arriving at Cal State Northridge. He spent a year as an American Council on Education Fellow in Academic Administration prior to entering higher education administration. At the time of his appointment at CSUN, he was associate vice provost of the Graduate School at Washington State University and on the graduate faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Other administrative appointments include associate dean and project development officer for the graduate school at Washington State.
Johnson is survived by his wife, Gail, and two adult children: Traci and Christopher. A university memorial service will be held on Tuesday, June 19, from 1–3 p.m. in the University Student Union, Northridge Center. In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to the CSUN Foundation to support the Mack I. Johnson Graduate Research Awards.