BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN NJ: First Black Male Dean of Two U.S. Medical Schools

"Dr. Robert L. Johnson is Dean of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School"

NEWARK, NJ – According to the AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges), never before in the history of the United States has one person led two medical schools.

Officials say, Robert L. Johnson, MD, FAAP’72, is not only the first African American to do so, he is the only person to do so. After serving as interim dean for six years at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (formerly UMDNJ),

Dr. Johnson became permanent dean in 2011. Johnson was appointed interim dean of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in January 2019, according to officials.

In recognition of Black History Month, Dr. Johnson is speaking out on the keys to his success and addressing the shortage of black men in medicine.

“I fully understand that, in my presence, I represent the two schools; but I also represent my race,” says Dr. Johnson. “In a lot of the places where I work, I am often the only black person in the room.”

Further expanding on this observation, Dr. Johnson adds, “That is the reality. But then I have to push forward from there. I cannot let that awareness hold me back. I’ve always viewed it as a positive.”

According to a 2015 study by the AAMC, the number of black male applicants for medical school had not increased in the 36 years between 1978 - 2014 when applications were 1,410 and 1,337, respectively.

“It’s a long-term problem for various reasons,” says Dr. Johnson.

“The shortage of black men in medicine cannot be solved at the medical school level. It has to be addressed in high school and college.

Facts/Quotes Underrepresented minorities made up 23 percent of NJMS’s enrollment in 2017-2018 Underrepresented minorities made up 22 percent of NJMS’s enrollment in 2019-2020 Johnson was one of few minorities in the NJMS class of 1972 "Academic institutions in the US often have long and complicated histories.

In this country, it was our blood, sweat, and tears that built many of these great institutions."

"The halls of academia are highly regarded as sources of intellectual voices and are often a flashpoint for philosophical and social change."

"History, although always viewed through a reflective lens, is something that we are all presently creating. Black history is taking place every day in Newark. It is my great honor to make history in this city."