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Founding Dean Named for New College of Music and the Arts

by University Relations

The formation of the new College of Music and the Arts (CMA) called for a founding dean with a remarkable breadth of knowledge and depth of experience, a dean with vision, passion, and the ability to lead, synthesize, and expand APU’s influential and growing areas of art and music. After a nationwide search, President Jon R. Wallace, DBA, announced May 3 the selection of a scholar administrator who embodies these qualifications and characteristics—Stephen P. Johnson, DMA.

Johnson began his leadership of CMA, which houses the School of Music and School of Visual and Performing Arts, on July 1. CMA draws upon the individual strengths of the existing School of Music and Departments of Art and Design, and Theater, Film, and Television for collaboration, integration, and expanding impact on the APU campus, in the U.S., and around the world. “Dr. Johnson emerged as the administrator and scholar who shares our vision for equipping the next generation of difference makers who will use art and music to transform the world for Christ,” said Wallace. “A celebrated academic, a collaborative leader, and a passionate advocate for Christian higher education, he will champion the work of his faculty, carve out opportunities for his students, and extend the influence of our university in the academy.”

As dean, Johnson provides leadership to 46 full-time faculty, 83 part-time and adjunct faculty, 695 undergraduate majors, 110 master’s degree candidates, and more than 1,000 students, while bringing vision and innovation to a comprehensive array of programs. “Azusa Pacific University has a strong reputation for academic and artistic achievement,” said Johnson. “With its interdisciplinary development among the art forms, APU’s College of Music and the Arts is poised to become the nation’s premiere college focused on exceptional artistic development and the integration of authentic Christian faith. The faculty are on the forefront of their fields, active in the community, and possess a genuine heart to develop student artists. I am thrilled to work alongside them and support them as they inspire the students toward greater skill and making a dynamic difference.”

Well qualified to accomplish the ambitious goals of his new role, Johnson’s past posts demonstrate his expertise and success. Most recently, he served as dean of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary School of Church Music and as associate professor of theory and composition. As dean, he established a reputation for intentional faculty development in a spirit of collegiality, reversed a pattern of negative enrollment and attained positive growth over six years, exercised careful stewardship that promoted collaboration and communication, and enacted a multifaceted approach to donor development. His teaching experience includes The Master’s College, the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Southern California.

“Dr. Johnson understands the power of the arts to reach and shape culture. He recognizes the promise that our proximity to Hollywood affords and the potential that Christ-centered storytellers have to transform that industry from the inside out. He knows that music and art capture humanity’s deepest convictions and give expression to our most profound emotions,” said Mark Stanton, Ph.D., provost.

“His record of creative leadership, relevant scholarship, and demonstrated commitment to faith integration marry well with APU’s academic trajectory.”

Originally published in the Fall '13 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).