Psychology Professor Awarded 2024 Adjunct Faculty Teaching Prize

Photo of CUNY SPS Psychology Professor Dr. Jill Johnson

The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) is proud to announce that Dr. Jill Johnson, an adjunct professor in the School’s online psychology program, has received the 2024 Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.

In an online ceremony on May 6, CUNY SPS Dean Lisa R. Braverman presented Professor Johnson with the award, which officially recognizes CUNY SPS adjunct faculty and comes with a $1,000 prize.

Also attending the ceremony were Blake Foote, CUNY SPS Foundation Board chair; Jennifer Sparrow, interim senior associate dean for academic affairs; Ruru Rusmin, assistant dean of the Office of Faculty Development and Instructional Technology; Dr. Carla Marquez-Lewis, academic director for the CUNY SPS Psychology Program; and other administrators, faculty, and staff.

Professor Johnson, who has taught at CUNY SPS since Spring 2022 and has held numerous teaching and administrative positions during her career, was selected for this honor by a panel of students and faculty based on the strength of her nomination by undergraduate students and endorsements from her program director.

As Dr. Johnson outlined in a statement of teaching philosophy submitted to the award committee, her teaching practices have been shaped and honed by her more than three decades of teaching in higher education.

"We come to our college learning experiences with memories and emotions held from a time we were last in school," Dr. Johnson explained. "If those experiences were strong and positive the mind is sooner open and believes that school can be an enriching experience. Some students come to college holding onto the last series of negative challenges they encountered when last in school. When this is true, I believe it is an educator’s opportunity to help rebuild the student experience so that students can genuinely recognize their greatest potential. Learning brings out the best in all of us, but it can be a terrifying proposition when doubt is the dominant narrative. As an educator, it is my ultimate joy to show students they hold more promise than they may have believed possible within themselves."

Dr. Marquez-Lewis said Dr. Johnson teaches two of the most critical courses for psychology—the senior capstone and statistics for psychology—which are also the most challenging classes for students.

She added that the award nomination came from students in the statistics class.

"When you think about all of the wonderful things students said about Dr. Johnson as part of her nomination, it's even more telling of who she is as a person and instructor," Dr. Marquez-Lewis noted. "Dr. Johnson quells students' anxiety and makes them comfortable with the material. She demonstrates the importance and practical use of statistics, and she presents the material in ways that inspire students to want to learn more. All of this is possible because of Dr. Johnson's teaching and her rapport with students. She is thoughtful about her classes and is constantly considering how to adjust things to meet students where they are. The Psychology Program is fortunate to have her as an instructor. I'm grateful that her exceptional teaching is being recognized through this award."

Dr. Johnson recalled her early days of teaching as being young and very nervous.

"I threw up every time I had to teach for the first three weeks of class," she said. "I learned everything from those early times. I gave a lot of thought to best understanding all that it took to work with students and to do all I could to help them succeed. From that start I have held roles as a full-time faculty member, a department chair, a national director of general education, as well as an acting vice president of academic affairs. I can honestly say, without reservation, that teaching for CUNY SPS is one of my favorite things I get to do."

Dr. Johnson joins Neil Harbus (Disability Studies), who received the 2023 Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. Other prior winners include Emily Brooks (Disability Studies), Debra Schaller-Demers (Research Administration and Compliance) and Bradley Gardener (General Education, Communication and Media, and Information Systems). For more information, visit the award page.

About the Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award

Responding to CUNY SPS Student Association members’ interest in highlighting faculty excellence, Tracy L. Meade, former senior associate dean for strategy and innovation, established the Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. This prize, which is given at the end of each academic year, acknowledges an adjunct instructor’s creative and innovative online teaching practices in undergraduate courses, and includes a $1,000 prize. Candidates are nominated by CUNY SPS students in online undergraduate degree programs; the nominees must then be endorsed by their program directors and provide a statement of their teaching philosophy, and a panel of students and faculty select each year's recipient.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York's leading online school since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor's and master's degree options at the City University of New York and serves as the University's first undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor's degree, progress from an associate's degree, earn a master's degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School's renowned and affordable online programs ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

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