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Tri-Cities education prof wins Distinguished Service Award

Johnson with students.
RICHLAND, Wash. – An education professor at Washington State University Tri-Cities has won WSU’s 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award.

Eric J. Johnson was selected as the faculty recipient representing the WSU system statewide. The award recognizes individuals and groups that demonstrate extraordinary contributions toward continuing the work of Martin Luther King Jr. in promoting human rights and social justice.
Johnson is assistant professor of bilingual/English as a second language education in the College of Education’s Department of Teaching and Learning. He also is the Latino community liaison for WSU Tri-Cities. His research specialties include language policy and planning, the application of policy as practice, immigrant communities and bilingual education.
“We work hard to recruit people like Eric to WSU Tri-Cities – people who have a philosophy of inclusion that we see as central to the work we do here,” said Elizabeth Nagel, assistant vice chancellor of professional programs at WSU Tri-Cities.
Nagel nominated Johnson for his tireless work as an educator, recruiter and supporter of first-generation students and non-native English-speaking students, an academic focus for WSU Tri-Cities. He also serves as the Hispanic-Serving Institution (H.S.I.) coordinator, designing and delivering initiatives that strengthen the response to the educational needs of the Latino community as WSU Tri-Cities works to earn the federal H.S.I. designation.
Johnson has presented almost 60 sessions on language development during the past three years for middle school students as part of the GEAR UP early outreach “I’m Going to College” campus visit program. He volunteers as a translator at parent conferences at Ochoa Middle School in Pasco and serves on the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as chair of the Education Outreach Committee.
He does whatever it takes to motivate and prepare students for college, Nagel said – whether it’s assembling information packets in Russian and Spanish or making home visits to help inform parents: “No job is too small for him. They’re all big jobs; they’re all important jobs to him.”
Johnson will be recognized Jan. 24 along with the WSU staff, student and community recipients at the 2013 MLK Jr. Community Celebration at WSU Pullman.
WSU Tri-Cities is located along the scenic Columbia River in Richland, Wash. Established in 1989 with upper division and graduate programs, WSU Tri-Cities expanded in 2007 to a four-year undergraduate campus offering 18 bachelor’s, 10 master’s and six doctoral degree programs. Learn about the most diverse campus in the WSU system at

Eric Johnson, WSU Tri-Cities assistant professor of bilingual/ESL education, 509-372-7304,
Elizabeth Nagel, WSU Tri-Cities assistant vice chancellor of professional programs, 509-372-7398,
Melissa O’Neil Perdue, WSU Tri-Cities marketing and communications manager, 509-372-7319, cell/text 509-727-3094,

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