Valerie Kinloch

Dean Valerie Kinloch Named President of Johnson C. Smith University

Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Endowed Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, has been named as the next president of Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) in Charlotte, North Carolina, effective August 1, 2023.

Under her leadership, which began in July 2017, the Pitt School of Education has made transformational changes to improve its academic programs, community-based partnerships, and faculty-led research.

In her announcement to the school community, Kinloch said the past six years of serving as dean have been an “incredibly rewarding” experience.

“It has been rewarding to design highly impactful educational initiatives with many of you and to see the positive impact on our students’ lives,” said Kinloch. “It has been rewarding to listen to, laugh with, and collaborate with you across the years. Thanks for your ongoing contributions to transformative educational work.”

Kinloch’s move to JCSU will be a homecoming.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and literature from JCSU and is a member of the college’s board of trustees. Now she’ll become the 15th president in the history of the college. The 156-year-old institution was originally founded to serve formerly enslaved Black people and now educates more than 1,100 students annually with 22 degree programs.

“It’s a dream come true to be invited to lead one of the finest Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America—and at the same time come home,” said Kinloch in a JCSU news release. “My years at JCSU were some of the best of my life. This university set me on course to grow beyond anything I could imagine, so it is incredibly gratifying to return and give back to the institution that helped make me who I am.”

A Legacy of Transformation

Work is underway to identify an interim dean for the School of Education.

Kinloch’s impact at the Pitt School of Education will be felt for years to come. Among the highlights from her tenure:

  • Adoption of a new school-wide mission-vision that calls on the school community to “ignite learning,” “strive for well-being for all,” and “lead with integrity.”
  • Reorganization of academic departments and staff units to improve operations
  • Rise in the rankings issued by U.S. News & World Report, including being ranked the No. 1 public school of education in Pennsylvania and No. 18 public institution nationally
  • Creation of new academic programs, including the launch of a new undergraduate teacher certification program
  • Consistently hiring exceptional faculty and talented staff, as well as establishing the position of Associate Dean for Equity, Justice, and Strategic Partnerships
  • Major renovation of the school’s offices and academic spaces on the fifth floor of Wesley W. Posvar Hall.
  • Successful fundraising campaigns that regularly exceeded annual targets

A Passion for Engagement

University of Pittsburgh Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd thanked Dean Kinloch for her leadership of the School of Education and for setting forth “a strategy to re-envision what the school could be.”

“She fortified the school’s commitment to equity and justice, diversity and inclusion, community engagement, university culture, and alumni involvement, which functionally reflected her scholarship focus on literacies, languages, cultures, and community engagements of youth and adults in and out of the classroom,” said Cudd.  “Additionally, Valerie has been exceedingly active in digital learning and the classroom media space.”

“Valerie’s passion for education, learning, equity, and engagement has made a deep impact on the School of Education and the University as a whole.”

A native of Charlestown, South Carolina, Kinloch also earned her MA in English and African American Literature and PhD in English and Composition Studies from Wayne State University.

Among her professional appointments, Kinloch is immediate past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, a fellow of the American Educational Research Association, and American Council on Education, and co-chair of Remake Learning.

Kinloch is the author and co-editor of numerous books and publications on race, place, identities, literacy, and justice, including Where is the Justice? Engaged Pedagogies in Schools and Communities and the award-winning Harlem On Our Minds: Place, Race, and the Literacies of Urban Youth.

Kinloch came to Pitt from The Ohio State University’s College of Education and Human Ecology and its Department of Teaching and Learning, where was a professor, associate chair of the department, and associate dean of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement. She has also taught at Columbia University’s Teachers College and the University of Houston-Downtown.