Phoenix College president Dr. Larry D. Johnson, Jr. , the first African-American president of the campus, was recently acknowledged by the Phoenix College NAACP/BSU Student Alumni at a virtual celebratory event. Dr. Johnson will be moving on to become president at Stella and Charles Guttman Community College at the City University of New York. The event included acknowledgements by Phoenix College NAACP/BSU alumni from across the decades, fellow Maricopa Community College employees, and community leaders.
Representing recent graduates, alumna Ms. Alema Jenkins provided the welcome and alumnus Mr. Toure’ Masters presented an inspirational poem. Representing the community, alumnus Dr. Gene Blue, Director of OIC, provided words of wisdom, and alumnus Ramses King Taylor II presented Dr. Johnson with a plaque engraved with the club’s logo and words of appreciation thanking him for his educational contributions to students and the community. In addition, he was presented with an engraving that was placed in his honor on the Living Legend Alumni Awardee Tree.
Former NAACP/BSU advisor, professor emeritus, Dr. Camilla Westenberg, provided a brief history of the tree. The tree was established by the Phoenix College NAACP/BSU in 1998 and is located prominently on the second floor of Fannin Library. For 22 years, students have acknowledged prominent Phoenix College African American alumni with recognition on the tree. Each recipient speaks to the students on the occasion of his/her recognition, providing words of wisdom. The tree was designed by the late Phoenix College alumnus Roosevelt ‘Rip’ Woods and cast by the late sculptor John Henry Waddell.
Additionally, Maricopa Community College District employees were present to share thanks and well wishes. These included a welcome by Phoenix College Dean of Arts and Sciences, Mr. Wilbert Nelson, and Phoenix College Director of Career Services and NAACP/BSU advisor, Dr. Alicia Middleton. Comments were provided by Phoenix College Dean of Student Affairs, Mr. Ralph Thompson; Maricopa Council of Black American Affairs (MCBAA) president, Dr. Michelle Traveler; and Maricopa District Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Felicia Ganther. Mrs. Vashi Worley Moore, Student Services Specialist, Sr., and Mr. Patrick Brown, Education Program Specialist at the Arizona Department of Education helped with the technical and logistical aspects of the event.
The event concluded with Dr. Johnson providing personal words of appreciation regarding working with the students and the community. In addition, he recited a special poem which expressed his philosophy on the significance of being an educator and administrator for students. Dr. Johnson indicated that Rev. Warren Stewart, Sr. was the first person that he had contacted when considering moving to Phoenix. Consequently, Rev. Stewart was asked to provide the culminating words and shared his appreciation and best wishes for future success to formally conclude the event. A very special thank you is expressed to those individuals who were able to participate in the congratulatory event and lend their voices to wishing continued success for Dr. Johnson.