Johnson C. Smith University Appoints Dr. Valerie Kinloch as the 15th President

CHARLOTTE, NC – Johnson C. Smith University’s Board of Trustees announced the selection of Dr. Valerie Kinloch as the university’s 15th president, effective August 1, 2023.

Kinloch is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University (’96) and a member of its Board of Trustees, giving her deep insight into the strengths and challenges of the 156-year-old college, founded to serve formerly enslaved Black people and now educating more then 1,100 students annually with 22 degree programs including a Master’s in social work.

Dr. Valerie Kinloch selected as the 15th President of Johnson C. Smith University by the Board of Trustees, effective Aug. 1, 2023.

Kinloch currently serves as Dean of the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh, where she oversees 300 full- and part-time faculty and staff, and nearly 1,000 students. She has lead academic transformation, recruited top faculty, exceeded fundraising goals, overhauled operations, and overseen more than $9 million in capital projects and renovations. Previously, she held positions as associate dean and professor at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and as a faculty member at Teachers College-Columbia University in New York and at the University of Houston-Downtown.

“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. “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.”

Kinloch was the board of trustees’ unanimous choice. Chairman Steven Boyd said he has been impressed by Kinloch’s work as a board member over the past two years, and was thrilled when she decided to pursue the presidency.

“Valerie’s proven leadership, deep background in academia, and intimate knowledge of Johnson C. Smith University gives her the expertise and credibility to continue our transformation,” said. Boyd. “She is a dynamic leader and change agent pure and simple. She will help us continue to elevate the quality of education we provide as we deliver on our promise to mold the next generation of leaders for this community and beyond.”

A native of Charleston, S.C., Kinloch succeeds Dr. Clarence D. Armbrister, who successfully led the university for more than five years, through the pandemic and other challenges to new heights. He helped raise the university’s public profile and secure the single largest financial commitment of more than $80 million through the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative to help fund the strategic plan adopted by the board in 2021.

Kinloch wants to build on the university’s growing community support and raise its national profile with students, families and funders by “telling the stories” of all the inspiring work happening at Johnson C. Smith. She also will look inward to reimagine academic offerings, elevate faculty and staff, increase alumni engagement, and “keep students at the center of everything” the university does.

Kinloch holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Literature from JCSU as well as a master’s in English/African American Literature and a doctorate in English, both from Wayne State University in Detroit. Her research, which focuses on the literacies of Black people in urban and rural contexts examines equitable forms of teaching, learning, and leading. She has published nine books, countless essays/articles, and has received multiple awards and grants. Recently, Education Week named her to its 2023 list of the nation’s most influential scholars, and she also successfully served as President of the National Council of Teachers of English.


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