Retired Educator

First 8 Memphis Board

Dr. Carol Johnson Dean, Ed.D., recently stepped down as Interim President of LeMoyne-Owen College.  During her 18-month tenure, the college was the recipient of a forty million dollar beneficiary endowment, the largest in the College’s 158 year history.  Under her leadership, the college shifted to remote learning in response to the 

COVID-19 pandemic and the college garnered over $6 million dollars from federal, state, city and county government and community partners to acquire technology, internet access and transform the infrastructure to support students and faculty in the transition.  The college established an on-campus Health and Wellness Clinic in partnership with Methodist-LeBonheur Healthcare, increased alumni engagement and student and faculty representatives joined the Board of Trustees. Prior to her role as Interim President, she served on the LeMoyne-Owen College Board of Trustees and she served as the Executive Director of New Leaders, South Region, a national organization providing leadership development for aspiring principals and teacher leaders.  She has provided oversight to New Leaders programs in Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and Minnesota.  She has also served as Executive Director, Large District Support for the Tennessee Department of Education (2015). 

Carol Johnson Dean is a 2014 Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow and a Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt/Peabody College.  She currently serves on the National Board of City Year, and Facing History and Ourselves; a member of the Memphis Teacher Residency Advisory Board, the Overton Park Conservancy Board, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra Board, and a member of the First 8 Advisory Board. She is also an Ambassador for the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).  She serves on the Alumni Association Board and the College of Education & Human Development Advisory Board, both at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Carol R. Johnson Dean served as Superintendent of Boston Public Schools (BPS) 2007-2013, having been appointed by a unanimous vote of the Boston School Committee.  As Superintendent of the 58,000-student district, she also served as a Cabinet Member for Mayor Thomas M. Menino.  Under her leadership, the Boston Public School District improved proficiency rates, narrowed achievement gaps, focused on access and opportunity, as well as graduating students prepared for college and career success.  During her tenure, graduation rates increased annually, the dropout rate decreased by over 40% to its lowest levels since 1977, and more students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses and the district more than doubled the number of 8th graders enrolled in Algebra I, demonstrating significant results on NAEP.  

In 2012, Dr. Johnson Dean received the nation’s highest honor for urban education leadership, the Richard R. Green Award, presented by the Council of the Great City Schools.  In 2010, the Boston Public Schools was recognized as one of the most improved school districts in the world by McKinsey and Company.  A strong advocate for Arts Education, Dr. Johnson Dean received the AASA/VHI Save the Music Award, increasing the percentage K-8 students receiving weekly arts instruction from 67% to 93% and doubling the number of art teachers in the district.  In 2021, she was recognized by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners (TN) as an “African American Living Legend”.  

Dr. Johnson Dean has a wealth of experience in public education as a teacher, principal and district administrator.  Prior to her appointment in Boston, Dr. Johnson Dean was Superintendent in Minneapolis, MN, Memphis, TN and St. Louis Park, MN.  She was named Minnesota Superintendent of the Year and the Tennessee PTA Superintendent of the Year.  Nationally, Dr. Johnson Dean has served on the Board of Directors for the Council of the Great City Schools, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley Board, the Harvard University Urban Superintendent’s Advisory Board, the University of Michigan School of Education/Dean’s Advisory Board and she has served on both the College Board and the Spencer Foundation Board (Chicago).  Dr. Johnson Dean earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Fisk University in Nashville, TN and a Master’s Degree (Curriculum and Instruction) and Doctorate Degrees in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota.  

She has also been awarded honorary degrees from LeMoyne-Owen College and Rhodes College, both in Memphis, TN, and Simmons College in Boston.  

Dr. Johnson Dean is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Memphis Chapter of Links, Inc., the International Women’s Forum and St. Andrew AME Church.  

Dr. Johnson Dean is married to Dr. Willie Dean, a retired YMCA Executive.

Together, they share six adult children.

Dr. Carol Johnson