Moon Johnson named director of Multicultural Student Center

June 10, 2014

by Susannah Brooks

Joshua Moon Johnson, director of LGBT Services and the Non-Traditional Resource Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara has been named assistant dean of students and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Multicultural Student Center (MSC).

Photo: Joshua Moon Johnson

Joshua Moon Johnson

“I am excited about Joshua’s energy, passion and ability,” says Lori Berquam, vice provost and dean of students. “Joshua brings an incredible array of professional experiences and national networks that will enrich the MSC’s support of students of color and focus on helping all students claim their place in creating a more socially just world.”

Moon Johnson will begin his new role on August 4. He succeeds Donte Hilliard, and will build upon the social justice mission that Hilliard implemented.

“Every conversation I had with the dean of students, the student life leadership team, and the staff at the Multicultural Student Center made me excited to be a part of a team that truly works to make higher education an opportunity for all people,” says Moon Johnson. “I am encouraged to see the great collaborations already existing between the center and many other university organizations.”

Moon Johnson holds a doctorate in education as well as an LGBT Studies Certificate from Northern Illinois University. In addition, he holds two master’s degrees: one in student affairs and diversity from Binghamton University, and one in marketing analysis from the University of Alabama.

During the past spring, he served as the resident director for diversity and intercultural competence for the Semester at Sea program, where he was a faculty member in intercultural communications. His student services experience also includes several years in residential life leadership at both NIU and Binghamton.

“Student affairs departments were the first organizations I found that challenged me to examine my identity and understand what social justice meant.”

Joshua Moon Johnson

Moon Johnson grew up in Mississippi, rarely seeing people who shared his multiracial (Korean-American and European-American) identity. He cites this and other struggles as catalysts for his work in both student affairs and social justice education.

“As a student leader, I found community through being involved on campus; I also saw the transformation that occurred within me and other student leaders,” he says. “Student affairs departments were the first organizations I found that challenged me to examine my identity and understand what social justice meant. Every day, I feel honored to have some small part in fostering the development of future leaders.”

At UW-Madison, the MSC continues to make efforts to engage more broadly with students, staff and faculty as well as determining how its newly renovated space in the Red Gym can serve as an important hub for campus. Moon Johnson hopes the transformed space will draw in many others who have typically not utilized the center for celebrating, congregating or more casual interaction.

A first-generation student, he hopes to address many aspects of the college experience to make higher education a more welcoming home for all students. He looks forward to deepening and developing collaborations with academic departments, admissions, religious and spiritual life, and community agencies.

“I aim to bring a greater focus on the mental health and wellness of our marginalized students,” says Moon Johnson. “Mental health issues are drastically affecting the lives of college students, specifically students of color, and I hope we can work in partnership to ensure our students are being supported holistically.”

The Multicultural Student Center, one of eight departments in the Division of Student Life, leads many key identity-based initiatives and efforts for the campus. The primary mission of the MSC is to collaboratively strengthen and sustain an inclusive campus where all students, particularly students of color and other historically underserved students, are engaged and can realize an authentic Wisconsin Experience.