After teaching in the Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Northridge for nearly 33 years, professor Johnie Scott will retire on May 27, at the end of the spring semester.
Verne Bryant, a professor in what was then CSUN’s Department of Pan African Studies (PAS), recruited Scott in 1984 for a position in the department. He started that August, and the rest is history.
“My life, my passion, has been rooted in the black community,” Scott said.
PAS was founded in 1969 and became the first state-sponsored Department of Black Studies in the nation.
“I would like to think my teaching and work here in the Department of Pan African Studies, now called the Department of Africana Studies, has provided the opportunity for further growth, reflection and focus,” said Scott.
The professor said he plans to focus more attention on himself and his family after retirement, in order to be active and enjoy what he refers to as the “golden years” of his life.
Scott recounted a few of his accomplishments while serving as a driving force on campus for 33 years. He received CSUN’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992 and four “Polished Apple Awards” from the University Ambassadors, an annual award given each spring that recognizes faculty and staff who make a positive impact on the lives of students. Scott also said that taking more than 2,000 students to visit theatrical and concert venues for plays and productions has been a highlight of his time at CSUN.
“When I first came to CSUN in 1984, the longest stint I ever had at any one place was seven years,” Scott said. “If you had said to me at the time that I would be spending the next 30-plus years of my life at Northridge, I would have looked at you with disbelief and probably laughed at the improbability of it all. But the fact is that in a few short weeks, I will be joining a special group of people and I’m definitely looking forward [to it].”
Professor Scott grew up as a young boy in the Jordan Downs Projects of Watts, CA. He is the oldest of seven siblings raised by a single mother. Scott received a scholarship to study at Harvard University, but went on to receive both his B.A. and M.A. at Stanford University.
Of his students, Scott says their energy keeps him enthused and receptive to fresh ideas.
“I find that with students — with young people — their interests, pursuits and creations not only are surprising, but pleasantly so,” he said.
One of those students is Olivia Njuki.
Njuki is a graduating senior majoring in Africana studies and serves as the president of the African Student Association. She said that professor Scott has helped her become an overachiever.
“He’s an amazing professor, counselor and advisor,” said Njuki. “He made me go to ‘infinity and beyond.’ He’s one of my favorite professors.”
Scott said he will miss teaching classes, the lectures and watching students grow and develop over the years into young, confident people.
He also had a few parting words of advice for students.
“Be a finisher in life,” he said. “Finish the race and remember that in the world we live in now, no one is going to ask how long it took you to get that degree. Instead, they only want to know if you have it. And aside from all of that, have fun. Enjoy yourself. Spread your wings and test them. And keep in mind that these college years will be among the best in your life.”