The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Oliver McGee, III

Civil engineer and academic administrator, Oliver G. McGee III, graduated from the The Ohio State University (OSU) in 1981 with his B.S. degree in civil engineering. McGee went on to earn advanced degrees from the University of Arizona, receiving his M.S. degree in civil engineering and his Ph.D. degree in engineering mechanics and aerospace engineering in 1983 and 1988, respectively. He was a graduate teaching associate in the department of civil engineering and engineering mechanics, while attending the University of Arizona. From 1986 to 1988, McGee worked as a senior research associate at OSU. In 2004, McGee earned his M.B.A. degree in business administration and finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
 
In 1997, McGee was appointed senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the U.S. President. In 1988, McGee began teaching at OSU as an assistant professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics. In 1992, McGee became the first African American faculty to be promoted to associate professor with tenure in the century and a quarter year history of OSU’s engineering college. He then became, in 1992, associate professor of civil and aerospace engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Along the way, he served in a number of visiting professorships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), including the first opening class of MIT’s Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors. Later, McGee was promoted to full professor and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering & Geodetic Science in 2001, becoming the first African-American full professor and chair in the 150-year history of OSU’s engineering college. Between 1999 and 2001 McGee served as the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of transportation for technology policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and special assistant to the President at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Howard University hired McGee as the school's very first vice president for research and compliance in 2007. Under his leadership, the new office raised the profile of the Howard principal investigator, launched the first-ever research communications documents Research at The Capstone, and constructed a new central management for research facility at Howard University’s C. B. Powell Building, adjacent to the school’s Louis B. Stokes Science Library.
 
For his research and education initiatives, McGee has been awarded grants totaling more than $8 million. In 2007, he founded the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm, Partnership Possibilities for America. The firm’s concepts on education, economics, and politics are covered in a number of McGee’s many books and publications. In 2012, he submitted three books for publication, including Bridging the Black Research Gap, available online through Amazon Create Space and Revilo Group Publishing, L.L.C. McGee has authored more than 50 articles appearing in academic journals such as, ASME Journal of Turbomachinery, ASME Journal of Fluids Engineering, ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, International Journal of Solids and Structures, ASCE Journal of Engineering Mechanics, and Civil Engineering Systems. For his contributions, McGee has been honored by numerous organizations, including the American Council on Education (ACE), American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA).
 
Oliver G. McGee III was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 11, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.235

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/11/2012

Last Name

McGee

Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

George

Schools

The Ohio State University

University of Arizona School of Law

Woodward Career Technical High School

University of Chicago

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

First Name

Oliver

Birth City, State, Country

Cincinnati

HM ID

MCG05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cambridge, England

Favorite Quote

Our Words Create Our World.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

10/28/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Civil engineer and engineering professor Oliver McGee, III (1957 - ) was the former chair of the Civil & Environmental Engineering & Geodetic Science Department at The Ohio State University. McGee was also a full professor of mechanical engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Howard University.

Employment

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

United States Department of Transportation

Ohio State University

Howard University

Georgia Institute of Technology

United Negro College Fund

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Favorite Color

Mulatto

Timing Pairs
0,0:901,32:20880,343:21220,348:26915,451:35288,587:50296,764:53242,786:53754,796:54458,809:54778,815:55802,851:56890,896:74390,1083:75110,1097:76150,1124:76710,1132:83330,1213:92707,1339:94195,1364:94660,1370:101040,1472:101940,1484:105360,1538:105990,1634:119952,1769:132982,1937:138488,2030:142780,2081:151285,2155:152550,2168:153470,2177:165692,2313:166208,2321:166982,2334:170164,2381:170680,2393:175744,2443:176120,2452:181926,2490:185946,2524:186330,2529:190930,2616:222040,2984:222490,2990:223210,3005:223570,3010:257864,3468:259390,3478:260044,3486:261461,3504:265190,3517:265850,3524:266840,3534:270070,3582:277150,3697:288918,3808:291540,3888:295520,3910:296250,3987:307335,4112:308258,4136:308826,4145:310246,4178:310956,4188:313086,4251:313867,4270:315216,4304:317843,4371:318198,4377:336266,4523:337692,4569:338126,4578:338374,4583:353466,4818:373500,5048:390450,5281$0,0:10670,151:20712,275:21024,280:23754,333:33078,446:33363,452:33648,458:50530,620:50805,626:72010,756:72326,761:106269,990:109064,1171:120379,1331:122622,1339:122977,1388:155630,1716:156294,1725:159408,1787:159982,1798:163310,1829
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Oliver McGee's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about his sister's artistry

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about his interest in learning more about his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about his mother's upbringing and her passion for education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about his paternal great-grandfather's relation to Sitting Bull and his interest in learning more about his ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Oliver McGee talks about Cincinnati Woodward High School

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Oliver McGee talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee talks about his likeness to his mother, her influence on him, and her career at the University of Cincinnati

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee describes his earliest childhood memory and talks about his father's career as a fireman in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about his elementary school teachers and his early aptitude in math

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about his struggles with reading as a child and how he overcame it

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee describes his childhood neighborhood, his interest in classical music, and the culture of Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee describes the sights, sounds and smells of Cincinnati, Ohio and talks about his mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about his academic performance in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Oliver McGee talks about race relations in Cincinnati, Ohio during his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about his parents' difficult relationship, their divorce, and his decision to live with his mother

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee reflects on the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Kennedy family

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee talks about improving his reading skills, starting high school, and his mother's parenting and influence

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about witnessing domestic violence during his childhood and the importance of perseverance

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about his high school geometry teacher and learning Euclidean Geometry

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about his experience as a drum major at Ohio State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee talks about his high school band and his musical interests

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about his high school math preparation

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Oliver McGee talks about the demographics of Woodward High School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee reflects on his high school counseling, his concerns about education policy, and his concerns for the education of future generations

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee talks about his job at McDonald's and his mother's aspirations for him

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee talks about his decision to attend The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about Minnie McGee's influence on his decision to major in engineering at The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about the history of drum majors and the band at The Ohio State University and his experience as an understudy to Dwight Hudson

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about football and his experience as a drum major at The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee talks about his professors and his experience in the engineering department at The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about meeting Dr. Julian Manly Earls and his mentors at the NASA Lewis Research Center and the University of Arizona

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about his dissertation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee talks about the relevance of his doctoral research on the field today and the goals of scientific research

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee talks about adjusting to the environment in Arizona

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about African Americans pursuing careers in academia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about his experience teaching at The Ohio State University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about his professional awards and his appointment to the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee talks about Charles Vent's influence on his appointment to the White House Fellows Program

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about being appointed as a White House Fellow

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Oliver McGee talks about his experience as a White House Fellow and his interest in science policy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about his research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his mentee, Keith Coleman

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee talks about meeting Bob Nash and his influence on his appointment to the Department of Transportation

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee reflects on his experience serving in the White House and talks about the people who were instrumental in his career there

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about leaving the White House, his decision to study business, and his experience at the Wharton School

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about his experience at the University of Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about his book, "Jumping the Aisle: How I Became a Black Republican in the Age of Obama"

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about graduating from the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee talks about his interest in philanthropy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee talks about his experience teaching at Howard University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about his desire to become a university president

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee reflects on his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee reflects on his life choices and talks about his family and friends

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about his books

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

9$6

DATitle
Oliver McGee talks about his experience as a White House Fellow and his interest in science policy
Oliver McGee talks about his book, "Jumping the Aisle: How I Became a Black Republican in the Age of Obama"
Transcript
Okay. Now, what--can you choose what kind of duty you would perform at the White House as a Fellow or did they have certain categories for you?$$You do have to answer the questions in the essays, "What would you like to do as a White House Fellow?" And I had expressed that I'd like to work for the president's science advisor. I wanted to do some work I science policy and, you know, and that was inspired by what Chuck Vest would inspire me on, the public understanding of science at the time, and making science understanding--helpful for society, and give back to society. We do our work and our calculus in our laboratories, but it's got to be useful for society. So that was my focus. And the top 30 national finalists' interview was at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. And you go there for about two or three days. They give you this big, giant matrix where they're interviewing all of the commissioners of the White House Fellows Commission. And the reason they choose 30 is because they're actually selecting about 14 or 15 final fellows. And typically, they choose three or four of those from the military, because Johnson actually formed his fellowship from the military. He wanted to have the military complex to understand the policy side of government, and that's why he formed this White House fellowship. So, they typically have, you know, military folks going through. And they have sort of like a two of a kind, two of every kind, like in Noah's ark. And that was my first experience of being like a "reality" television program, "The Apprentice" or you might say whatever television shows you see in that, you know, that thing that you see on television where they're going through. So we were like Noah's ark; two of every kind. And so, they had two scientists; me and a young lady from Minnesota. And we just kind of raced our way through that for two or three days. And it was an endurance match. You see if you can keep up with the endurance and last. And I was doing so fine, and then I got confused in the matrix one day, I missed one of my interviews. And that interview was with the one renowned Roger Porter, who was Bush One's Economic and Domestic Policy Advisor. I got mixed up, a matrix, and I got the wrong time, and he was sitting where and saying, "Where's Oliver?" (laughs). Of course, Larry, I was bounced out (laughs). But I'm pretty sure it's part of the discussion, you know. I learned a valuable lesson that you have to be on time and time is a very important thing in life. It was a very important lesson I had to learn. Still learning it. But I want to share with the young people. Watch your time.$$Okay. So, you didn't get a chance to be--now, okay, what. You didn't get a chance to serve as a White House Intern.$$That's right. I didn't get selected.$$Right.$$Along the way, I had the help of Uncle Chuck. He was disappointed. He said, "Oh, well, I'm sorry about that, Oliver. You got to learn a valuable lesson on that." And then he--two weeks later, I got a call from John Deutch, who was the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Ernie Moniz, who was the Undersecretary of Science in the White House Science Office. And they wanted for me to meet in their offices at MIT. Ernie Moniz was the chair of the physics department, and John Deutch was a faculty member of the physics department. And those were two of the most momentous meetings I've ever had at that time in my career. John Deutch was a wonderful gentleman. Very, very soft spoken; very stately. His office was a highly decorated place of plaques from presidents dating back to Nixon. And he's been on so many boards and commissions. And he just simply looked at my resume and he asked me one question: "Oliver, why do you want to serve?"$$And (unclear) (simultaneous).$$And I told him, "I want to serve because I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in science and technology. I want to understand science policies so we can increase the public's understanding of science. It's a very simple answer." And he said, "Thank you." And then I spoke with Ernie Moniz afterwards and he gave me a book on "Science with a National Interest," that he had wrote for President Clinton. And he said, "What do you think of this?" And we went over it and talked about it, and we talked about the issues in it. And it was a very delightful interview. And then two weeks later I got a call from the White House from Daryl Chubin. He said, "Hello. I'm the Assistant Director for Science and we've been looking at your background here, and we would like for you to come and talk with us, and the President's Science Advisor would like to have a conversation with you." After I picked my jaw up off of the floor, I flew to Washington and had a day of interviews in the White House Science Office. It was--wonderful people. Wonderful people. Daryl Chubin and Bev Hartline and Arthur Bienenstock, who is in the upper administration at Stanford [University], and Duncan Moore. The science advisor was Jack Gibbons. I met Cynthia Chase, who was the secretary; and Donna Coleman. And they had a White House intern named James Bucksbaum (ph. splg.). And we all had lunch and everything. And then the two--oh, I'd say about a week later, they said, "When can you join us? We like you."$Now, what's the name of your latest book?$$"Jumping The Aisle: How I Became a Black Republican in the Age of Obama."$$Okay. Okay.$$That's a rhetorical question.$$Yes (laughs).$$It's really about belief in America. It's not about yea or nay or any candidate or anything like. Most people were looking at the book, "Why you're writing about America?" I find America fascinating under the [President Barack] Obama Era. You know, when we elected the first black president, we made America interesting. Whether you're for him or against him, you got to understand the ride is fun, and we're paying attention. And that's what black leadership does. We're so innovative when we do it. We have to be creative. We have to be nimble. We have to try and test things. Some things work, some things do not. We have to listen. We have to be able to mend our mistakes. We got to keep trying. And then we have to know when to step down. Because everything we're doing is history. So America is interesting under the Obama because it's about history. So I wrote a book about that, respecting the history and showing the way, and then looking to a future on getting to 2076. And those are wonderful principles of leadership learned from Mike Eusem (ph. splg.) at Wharton School in his leadership course. Oh, Mike Eusem. Mike Eusem had us climbing a tree to learn leadership at Wharton. When I went through that course, I was wondering, "Why are we climbing a tree?" But he was teaching us how leadership is dependent on those who are under you, as well as those who are pulling you up. The Age of Obama is doing that now. Valerie Jarrett, one of your HistoryMakers is doing that now. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are doing that now. The American people are doing that now. Because we're doing leadership and making the decision, independent decision.

James Johnson, Jr.

Civil engineer and education administrator James H. Johnson, Jr. was born on May 27, 1947 to parents, James and Arline in Annapolis, Maryland. He earned his B.S. degree in civil engineering from Howard University. He then attended the University of Illinois, where he received his M.S. degree in sanitary engineering in 1970. Johnson worked as a consultant and as an engineer at Engineering Science before continuing his education at the University of Delaware. He received his Ph.D. degree in civil and environmental engineering in 1982.

Following the completion of his graduate studies, Johnson was offered a position on the faculty of his alma mater, Howard University. Johnson’s research focused on the treatment of hazardous compounds, contaminated soil including explosive waste, and environmental policy. He became chair of the Howard University Department of Civil Engineering in 1982. From 1989 until 2002, Johnson served as associate director of the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic Hazardous Substance Research Center. In 1996, he was appointed dean of Howard University’s College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Sciences and in 2005 he was named the Samuel P. Massie Professor of Civil Engineering. Four years later, Johnson became professor emeritus of civil engineering at Howard University. In 2010, he was appointed chair of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson. Johnson was the first African American to chair this independent committee for the Agency. He has also served as chair of the U.S. EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors. In 2012, Johnson was appointed director of EPA's National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) within the Office of Research and Development. Johnson has co-edited two books, contributed to three more, and he has published over 60 academic papers.

Johnson is a diplomate of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and in 2005, he received the National Society of Black Engineers Lifetime Achievement Award in Academia. He has also been recognized with the 2008 Water Environment Federation Gordon Maskew Fair Distinguished Educator Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award by National Society of Black Engineers (DC Chapter) in 2009. He is a member of the Water Environment Federation, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, the Association of Environmental Engineers and Science Professors and the American Academy of Environmental Engineers.

James H. Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 15, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.139

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/15/2012

Last Name

Johnson

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

"Jim" H.

Schools

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

University of Delaware

Howard University

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Annapolis

HM ID

JOH40

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches, Golfing

Favorite Quote

To him or her that is given much, much is expected.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

5/27/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Civil engineer and education administrator James Johnson, Jr. (1947 - ) is the former dean of Howard University’s College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Sciences, and the first African American chair of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT).

Employment

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Howard University

Engineering Science, Inc. (Parsons)

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:2532,26:3000,39:9610,164:9810,169:10210,178:10460,184:10810,193:13590,229:15768,275:16428,286:17088,296:19464,345:19992,355:20322,361:21840,387:22434,399:30853,531:31420,550:32617,581:33247,597:33940,611:36334,666:40541,720:41297,733:42494,762:43250,778:43628,786:43943,792:44447,801:44951,811:46337,843:46652,849:47030,857:47408,869:47786,876:48920,906:49172,911:49487,917:51629,960:52322,978:52574,983:53582,1011:53960,1018:58825,1035:59281,1046:59623,1053:60877,1086:61162,1092:61960,1111:62416,1120:63043,1134:65987,1166:68323,1224:78094,1323:85158,1420:85662,1432:87734,1494:88406,1508:88630,1513:90030,1555:90254,1560:96938,1666:100322,1722:101066,1744:101562,1753:104786,1823:105282,1832:106088,1849:106522,1858:106770,1863:107018,1868:107576,1879:108072,1890:108754,1906:109374,1927:110676,1959:111234,1969:115858,2008:116322,2018:116728,2029:117018,2036:117250,2041:117830,2060:118062,2065:118526,2078:118758,2083:119338,2097:122064,2154:122354,2160:124036,2208:125080,2229:126298,2251:126994,2264:130786,2281:132154,2312:132586,2322:133018,2329:135227,2360:135581,2370:136230,2382:137115,2403:137351,2408:138236,2426:141823,2465:142178,2471:144237,2523:148781,2613:149349,2622:150343,2641:155450,2689:155919,2698:157259,2719:159275,2731:159610,2738:161151,2769:162156,2794:162558,2804:163094,2813:163965,2834:164501,2845:166109,2888:166645,2898:170062,2977:170330,2982:171201,2998:176260,3023:178388,3067:178612,3072:179452,3095:180404,3117:180684,3123:181524,3145:181804,3152:182644,3170:183988,3211:184324,3218:184716,3226:184996,3232:185444,3244:185724,3250:187684,3295:188076,3303:188748,3318:189476,3334:189924,3344:190148,3349:195140,3376:195756,3388:196036,3409:199228,3474:199508,3480:200348,3499:200684,3506:202084,3539:202756,3554:202980,3559:203372,3568:207974,3631:211336,3672:211746,3678:217115,3776:221735,3893:223495,3944:223770,3950:224430,3961:224815,3970:226630,4020:226850,4025:229940,4030:230453,4040:230681,4045:232676,4094:233189,4107:233417,4112:234215,4133:235754,4169:239463,4203:239805,4210:240375,4223:241572,4247:241971,4259:242655,4277:242940,4283:243225,4289:245196,4300:245630,4308:245940,4314:247304,4349:248048,4365:248544,4374:248792,4396:250466,4410:251706,4463:252016,4469:252636,4484:254682,4520:261170,4569:261590,4576:264180,4623:264740,4632:267610,4692:269710,4726:270410,4737:270690,4742:271320,4752:273000,4779:277160,4793:279778,4857:281087,4896:287880,5005:289920,5044:295052,5125:295370,5132:295582,5137:295794,5142:296006,5147:296218,5152:296430,5157:296801,5165:298126,5198:298921,5230:299292,5239:299557,5245:300935,5274:301306,5284:302048,5307:302260,5312:306447,5439:311080,5472$0,0:4226,94:4958,105:5202,110:5507,116:6239,133:7520,163:9960,218:14772,254:15627,274:17166,313:17508,320:18192,344:18534,352:18819,359:19332,370:19788,380:20415,396:21099,410:21726,424:22125,434:23436,463:24063,478:24519,495:26115,524:29760,535:30384,543:34250,562:34605,569:34960,575:35457,586:35954,596:36380,603:38060,614:38390,621:38852,632:40238,666:40898,677:41690,692:41954,697:42416,707:43010,717:43868,731:44660,746:44924,754:48224,816:52052,889:53240,924:53570,930:56012,972:56342,978:56936,991:57200,996:61645,1019:62245,1029:62695,1040:63220,1052:64195,1071:65170,1089:65695,1098:72768,1167:73153,1173:73769,1183:74770,1202:76300,1207:76672,1212:78472,1231:79011,1239:80243,1260:81244,1277:83862,1328:84632,1338:85017,1344:86018,1361:89406,1430:93280,1437:96780,1513:97060,1518:100140,1587:100910,1601:101190,1606:101750,1617:102870,1638:103570,1649:104130,1663:104550,1670:108935,1690:109980,1702:110360,1707:113880,1794:117675,1852:117951,1857:118917,1873:124098,1908:124828,1920:125339,1928:125704,1934:128055,1949:128468,1958:128822,1965:129117,1971:130544,1982:131056,1991:132080,2018:132720,2032:133360,2045:137008,2123:137264,2128:137648,2139:138032,2147:138672,2158:139376,2171:139888,2183:142704,2241:143024,2266:147166,2274:147698,2283:148914,2296:150512,2312:150867,2318:151648,2330:154701,2384:158535,2485:160097,2535:163764,2560:171996,2705:172584,2713:173004,2721:180580,2845:180980,2852:181460,2860:182100,2870:185140,2925:185460,2930:189749,2961:191657,3020:192823,3051:193300,3063:193512,3068:194519,3098:194731,3103:195579,3131:196268,3151:197222,3172:198547,3201:198759,3206:199024,3212:199448,3221:202204,3284:207778,3326:208026,3334:208274,3339:209080,3353:212304,3451:214164,3503:214474,3509:215218,3525:215776,3553:217078,3571:217326,3576:217698,3584:217946,3589:218194,3594:218814,3606:219062,3611:219310,3619:219868,3629:220364,3640:220612,3646:220860,3652:221108,3657:221604,3666:222410,3681:222968,3687:224270,3713:228928,3726:229468,3738:229954,3748:230224,3755:230926,3761:231142,3766:231358,3771:231952,3786:232870,3810:233302,3819:233896,3838:234112,3843:234544,3853:234814,3859:235246,3870:237410,3877
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Johnson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Johnson talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Johnson talks about the history of Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Johnson talks about his family's history in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Johnson talks about his mother's growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Johnson talks about his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Johnson talks about his hometown of Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Johnson talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Johnson talks about his extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Johnson talks about how his interest in civil engineering developed

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Johnson talks about Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination and the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Johnson talks about his experience at Bates High School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Johnson recalls President Lyndon B. Johnson's visit to Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Johnson talks about civil engineering

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Johnson talks about his mentors at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Johnson talks about his studies at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Johnson talks about his decision to attend University of Illinois for graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Johnson talks about his experience working at Engineering Science and the 1972 Watergate Scandal

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Johnson discusses his research on active carbon to dechlorinate water

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Johnson talks about his doctoral studies at University of Delaware while teaching at Howard

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Johnson discusses his dissertation on solid-liquid separation in water treatment

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Johnson talks about serving as chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Johnson reflects on his work at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Johnson discusses his contributions as Dean of Howard University's School of Engineering

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Johnson talks about Howard University School of Engineering's Leadership Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Johnson talks about receiving the Man of Courage Award

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Johnson talks about treating water contaminated with radiological and hazardous waste

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Johnson talks about his work as an Environmental Health and Safety Consultant

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Johnson talks about his professional honors and awards

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Johnson describes his transition to Professor Emeritus and his research on producing biofuels

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Johnson reflects on his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Johnson talks about his family and their belief and pride in him

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Johnson talks about his brother

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Johnson shares his thoughts about sustainability and climate change

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Johnson reflects on his career

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Johnson describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Johnson describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

9$2

DATitle
James Johnson talks about his mentors at Howard University
James Johnson talks about Howard University School of Engineering's Leadership Institute
Transcript
Okay. Okay. So who were some of your teachers and mentors at Howard [Howard University]?$$Well, I have to say I had a lot of--I had a lot of mentors. But let me talk about at least three of them. One was a guy by the name of Walter T. Daniels. He was--Dr. Daniels was a structural engineer, first African-American to get a Ph.D. He got it from Iowa State University. Dr. Daniels, when he was working on his Ph.D. and all through his schooling while he was--he went to Prairieview undergraduate, but when he went to graduate school, and he had laboratories, he had to do his labs by himself because there were segregated--it was a segregated--he basically was segregated. But he was able to do all that and do it well, and he understood the importance of education. And when we would complain about how hard it was on us at Howard, he would tell us what it was really like to be hard. So he was a role model because he had--he got his Ph.D., he was a scholar, he had a good understanding of all of the course material, and he also was a caring person, and he nurtured a lot of young people to go on to graduate school and do things. The second one was the person who got me into environmental engineering, and his name was Man Mohan Varma.$$How do you spell that? Now what is it?$$Man, M-A-N, M-O-H-A-N, and the last name is Varma, V-A-R-M-A. Dr. Varma was a (sic) environmental engineer, and he was the one that got me interested in environmental engineering and invited me to his laboratory to work when I was a junior; said, "Why don't you come down to my lab and work and I can you some of the things we do?" So he was--he had an influence on me in terms of going into environmental engineering which, at that time, was called sanitary engineering. And I worked in his lab. He also helped me to select a graduate school. And so, that was very good because he sent me to help me go to a school where he knew that it would be a caring and a welcoming environment. So, and I actually had a chance to come back, when I came back to Howard, to work with him for many years, and he still was very helpful mentoring me; made sure I did the right things, took the right professional--made right professional choices about memberships and professional societies; being active. He and I coauthored a couple of papers together and actually hosted a couple of conferences together. So he was very influential in my career in the environmental area. The third person was a guy by the name of Raymond Jones. Ray Jones was a Howard graduate who had gone to the University of Michigan and had gotten his master's degree in sanitary engineering, and came back to Howard to teach. What was unique about Ray was that he was also a practicing engineer, and I had times that I worked on a couple of projects with him and--but he also was a good mentor, because he had a nice balance about his life. He was one of the faculty, he did--he was a practitioner, so he brought that practice to the classroom so e could see really how we could take the information we were using, learning in the classroom, and how we could take and translate it into a project. So, Ray Jones was a person who helped me see the bigger picture about life, and I think that was a--he was--he also, I think, took a special interest in me because I had a chance to work with him too. Oh, and the interesting thing that--that was that I had--I had a chance to be on the faculty with all of them after leaving Howard and coming back to the faculty. So I had a chance to know them from two perspectives.$$Okay. As a student and a faculty member?$$As a student and a faculty member.$$Now, what other activities were you engaged in at Howard? Were you part of the--$$Oh, I was a studier.$$Okay.$$I just studied. (Again?) a continuation of what I did in high school, but studying in a different way. I actually, I really did study here. And I remember being in my first classes in math and science, and I was in there with students who had come from technical high schools, and so, they'd had one year of calculus already. So what they saw in calculus they already knew, and to me it was Greek. And so, it required me to really study and go back and brush up on my algebra and trigonometry, and learn those things and relearn those things as I was doing the calculus classes. So, I remember that it was at Howard that I had to have good study habits, and I didn't have time to do other things. And I actually had a detailed schedule of everything I did, and my time for relaxation was Friday evening and, also, it would be a little bit on Saturday evening. But all the other time, except for church time on Sunday, I was studying.$$That's a tremendous work ethic. I mean, who do you cite as a source of the inspiration for that? Or did you internally (unclear)$$No. It wasn't internally. But a couple of my buddies who were in the Boy Scouts with me, at least one of them that lived right around the corner from me, also was--went to Howard and he was in electrical engineering. But he stayed one year and actually flunked out. And I always knew that they were much smarter than I was because they were two years older. So there were new things I never knew. So my inspiration was that, our high school was a good high school, and I wasn't going to do what he did and I didn't care what price I had to pay, I was going to study enough so I could make it. (So that's what I did?)$So, I'm going to--I'll repeat a little bit of what I said for continuity. I think one of the things I'm very happy about that I did while I was dean is to try to find a way to follow-through on our--the mantra of the university. When President Swygert came in, the mantra became "Leadership for America and the Global Community." So we were able to find a partner in Black and Veatch that was interested in helping us to provide a leadership institute for our students. And this was a (sic) extracurricular activity for students. What we tried to do was to have a guest speaker to come on a Friday afternoon, have a lecture on leadership that'll be open to the university community, and then have that following Saturday, the following day, full of workshops on leaderships. And we were able to do that for 15 years. So, the--our partner, Black and Veatch, stuck with us for all 15 years, and they provided us with a small grant of about 25,000. But the important thing they did is, they gave us a lot of their people to help us to prepare the material. And so, they put a lot of time and effort in beyond the dollars and cents. So, highlights. So, we had guest speakers, like, to kick off, like Bill Gates. Bill Gates came to campus. He was on a tour, and he was trying to convince--on this tour, he was doing six schools a given week, and we got selected to be done (on it too?). We were selected for his visit on Friday afternoon, and so we scheduled--we scheduled our Leadership Institute to be that weekend and here's Bill Gates to kick it off. So our students got a chance to see Bill Gates. We also had a Four-Star General to come, General Lester Lyles. He actually came in the same year of 9-11. So that was kind of iffy as to whether he would be able he'd be able to come, but I should be able to tell you he came and he was well protected. The last institute we had, our plenary speaker was General Colin Powell. So he came and talked about leadership from his perspective, followed by a workshop. We also had the administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, to come and talk. So we had a lot of good people who were in leadership positions to come and to talk to our students about leadership, and we followed up with students within our college with the workshops on Saturday. So I think that, to me that was a way that we bought into the vision for the university and the mantra, and we were able to carry through. And I felt as (though?) as that was a contribution that had an impact upon a lot of our students.$$Okay. So did that start in '95 (1995) and run through 2010?$$It ran 'til 2010, right; '95 (1995) to 2010.$$Okay.$$Was the last one.$$All right. So, you said fifteen years. That pretty much locks you in (laughs).$$Oh, yeah. Yeah.$$Okay. So, what else? Anything else?$$You know, actually, I can make a list of students, because a lot of what we did was with students. I can talk about the, I think, maybe some special moments I had with students, whether it would be a teaching moment or a mentoring moment, and then look at the students three or four years down the road. But I guess I would say I always had a gang of students that I worked with, even after stepping down as dean and going into the--America's ranks and having my research projects at Howard, I still have four or five students that were, not necessary--I didn't have classes then, but they weren't in my classes, but students who came to me and kind of found me to be a person they could confide in or a person they could talk and- talk to, and we'd find ways to move them forward and help them to grow. So there were many, many, many students throughout the years that we had relationships with, in and outside the classroom that I think were very special to me, because I could see the students grow and go to the next places in their lives as a result.