RALEIGH, N.C.—Dr. Carla C. Johnson will be the executive director of the William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at the NC State College of Education, where she will also serve as an associate dean, beginning May 1, 2019. She is currently a special advisor to the dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute on P16 STEM, executive director of Indiana GEAR UP and professor of science education at Purdue University.
“Dr. Johnson has a history of establishing partnerships and working with schools, government agencies and universities to improve education, which will prove invaluable as she assumes this critical leadership position to advance teaching, learning and leadership within the state,” said NC State College of Education Dean Mary Ann Danowitz. “I look forward to Dr. Johnson quickly reaffirming partnerships and establishing new ones so that the Friday Institute can continue to be North Carolina’s leading institute for educational transformation and have a positive impact on addressing the state’s most pressing educational challenges.”
As the executive director of the Friday Institute and an associate dean, Johnson will provide strategic direction and leadership for the institute, including expanding and sustaining its success and operation in North Carolina and beyond in close alliance with the College of Education.
In her current position, Johnson provides guidance on initiatives within the P16 STEM areas to the Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s dean. In addition, as a professor of science education, she serves as the director of research for the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program, which operates STEM programs to inspire children and youth to pursue STEM careers. She is also the executive director of Indiana’s GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), which is designed to increase the number of K-12 students prepared for postsecondary education.
Since joining Purdue in 2013, Johnson has also served there as the College of Education’s associate dean for research, engagement and global affairs and the college’s lead for strategic partnerships. In these various roles, she has worked collaboratively with others to develop and implement a strategy for coordinating campus-wide P12 STEM initiatives and has provided leadership for developing and implementing all cross-campus and external partnership efforts within and outside of Indiana.
Before joining Purdue, Johnson held research, academic and leadership positions with the University of Cincinnati, the University of Toledo, Utah State University, Northern Kentucky University and Vanderbilt University.
“It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to serve as the next executive director of the Friday Institute,” Johnson said. “The commitment of the College of Education and Friday Institute to North Carolina schools, as well as to advancing educational equity and innovation within schools around the globe are deeply aligned with the focus of my work.”
Throughout her career, she has been the principal investigator or co-PI on 36 research grants and contracts totaling over $48.8 million, and she has authored or co-authored over 300 journal articles, books, book chapters and research reports. These publications include completing 32 books for the STEM Road Map project in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association. A book focused on policy and advocacy for STEM education for all children that she co-authored with astronaut Buzz Aldrin — Investing in Our Future: Preparing the Next Generation for the Innovation Age — will be published in 2020 by Purdue University Press.
Johnson earned her doctorate and master’s degrees from the University of Cincinnati and her bachelor’s from Eastern Kentucky University.
“The Friday Institute has served as a prominent leader for more than a decade in educational research and outreach and is well-positioned to make an even greater impact on the field in the future,” Johnson said. “I am excited about the opportunities and plan to leverage powerful partnerships, evidence-based programs and expertise within the Friday Institute, college, university and broader-community to scale up our reach and impact.”
Founded in 2005 as part of the NC State College of Education and located on NC State’s Centennial Campus adjacent to the Centennial Campus Middle School, the William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation advances K-12 education through innovation in teaching, learning and leadership by bringing together educational professionals, researchers, policy-makers and other community members. In addition to fostering collaborations to improve education, Friday Institute scholars and staff conduct rigorous and objective research and evaluation, develop educational resources, provide professional development programs for educators and help inform decision-making and policy related to educational matters. Over 100 faculty, staff and graduate students at the Friday Institute work across projects teams supported by over $17 million in grants, contracts, state funding and gifts.
Examples of Friday Institute initiatives over the last decade include: helping to develop North Carolina’s $400 million Race to the Top initiative and leading its evaluation; developing and leading the North Carolina K-12 Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina Digital Learning Initiative and the North Carolina Computer Science for All initiative; and developing and administering a suite of Massive Open Online Courses for Educators (MOOC-Eds) that have reached 35,000-plus educators in over 90 countries.