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Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award Presented to Cheyney University Psychology Professor

May 10, 2014

Psychology Professor, Dr. Rita Johnson, is Cheyney University's 2014 Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient

Psychology Professor, Dr. Rita Johnson, is Cheyney University's 2014 Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient

Dr. Rita A. Johnson, a Full Professor of Psychology in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, is the 2014 recipient of the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award.  She received the prestigious honor at the May 10 Commencement Ceremony on the historic campus.

"I am humbled by it.  I just try to be the best teacher that I can be. Teaching has always been my main focus.  I focus on doing the best job I can with my students both inside and outside of the classroom."

In presenting the award for the faculty member whose shown exemplary teaching skills, CU President Michelle R. Howard-Vital said; "Dr. Johnson, our students often tell us that our professors are the core of this University.  Your work in the classroom certainly reflects that."

In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses at Cheyney University, Dr. Johnson serves as a mentor for former students.  She is currently assisting on a dissertation committee for one. She is also a Senior Trainer with Ceceilyn Miller Institute (CMI) for Leadership and Diversity in America, providing expertise in human relations and diversity training with students and staff. She serves as a presenter and workshop facilitator, as well, for National Student Leadership Diversity Conventions and Anti-Bullying Conferences sponsored by CMI across the county.

Dr. Johnson received her Bachelor of Arts, Masters and Doctorate degrees in Psychology from Rutgers University, where she went on to teach for several years. She has worked as a school psychologist for New Jersey school districts.  Dr. Johnson has also worked with young people as a part of the staff and advisory council for The Martin Luther King Youth Empowerment Conference, and has traveled throughout the U.S. training individuals to assist at risk students using the Bry Behavior Modification and Reinforcement Mentoring Program--a nationally approved program.

Since 1961, Christian and Mary Lindback's foundation has recognized outstanding faculty members at colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey with the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award.

This is not the first time Dr. Johnson's work has received high praise.  In 1997, as a graduate student, she received the Dean's Award for doing the most to foster and enhance the quality of life at the Rutger's Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. Four years earlier, as an undergrad, she was chosen as the best student in her psychology graduating class. Years later, while teaching at Rutgers, she received a distinguished teaching award.

"I am grateful for the recognition for the effort I put forward to be the very best that I can be for my students," she admitted.  

What she is most proud of is her commitment each year to bring in professionals to conduct mock interviews with psychology students, and bring Cheyney alumni back to talk to her Senior Seminar class about life after Cheyney. 

"My seniors are always glad that the alumni take the time to come back," reported Dr. Johnson. "The alumni always give them their contact information and offer their services."

Johnson loves staying in touch with former students and hearing about all of the wonderful things that they do. She also appreciates when they stress the value of a Cheyney education.

"They tell me that they feel totally competitive. They say that they have everything that they need to succeed after graduating from Cheyney."

Inside the classroom, Dr. Johnson likes to teach experientially. One of the most enjoyable parts of teaching, she says, is connecting with students.

"You see a confused look," she describes, "and then you see the flash go off and I see that they're getting it. I know that they really understand.  That's a wonderful thing."