Alfred University News

Noted medical school dean Robert Johnson ’68 to address students at Alfred University Convocation

Dr. Robert Johnson '68
Dr. Robert Johnson '68

Alfred University alumnus Robert Johnson ’68, who co-founded a program serving underprivileged youngsters in New York City and went on to become the only dean in our nation’s history to oversee two medical schools simultaneously, will deliver the keynote address to incoming students at the University’s Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 23.


ALFRED, NY – Alfred University alumnus Robert Johnson ’68, who co-founded a program serving underprivileged youngsters in New York City and went on to become the only dean in our nation’s history to oversee two medical schools simultaneously, will deliver the keynote address to incoming students at the University’s Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 23.

The 6:30 p.m. Convocation ceremony, which opens the 185th academic year at Alfred University, will be held virtually, via Zoom, due to the University’s guidelines for social distancing. Also providing remarks will be Alfred University President Mark Zupan and Merveille Bulonza, Student Senate president.

Johnson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Alfred University in 1968, went on to receive his medical degree from the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now the New Jersey Medical School). He is dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark, New Jersey, and interim dean of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Johnson is of no relation to the namesake of the latter.) In addition to being the only medical school dean serving at two schools simultaneously, he is one of only a handful of African Americans serving as medical school deans. 

Johnson’s contributions to society are noteworthy as well. In the early 1970s, fresh out of medical school, he was among a group of young professionals working in the fields of medicine, psychiatry, law, education, social work, and the arts who recognized a need to invest in New York City’s youth. In 1972, the group started The Door, a program aimed at helping a diverse and growing population of disconnected adolescents gain the resources needed to succeed in school, work, and life.

Today, The Door annually serves nearly 11,000 young people from all over New York City. The program provides a wide range of free services including reproductive health care and education, mental health counseling and crisis assistance, legal assistance, GED and ESOL classes, tutoring and homework help, college preparation services, career development, job training and placement, supportive housing, sports and recreational activities, arts, and nutritious meals. Johnson still sees patients at The Door twice weekly.

Johnson has enjoyed a teaching career that spans more than four decades. Since joining the faculty of the New Jersey Medical School in 1976, he has taught nearly 25 percent of all medical doctors currently practicing in New Jersey. His impact on the school’s growth and success has been significant, particularly in the area of research. When he took over as dean in 2005, the New Jersey Medical School was struggling in its research efforts. Under Johnson’s leadership, the school now ranks 38th in the country in research spending.