Dr. Carol Johnson-Dean, interim president, LeMoyne-Owen College: “When the coronavirus permeated the country…we took every precaution to ensure our students, faculty and staff were informed and safe…. Although we were keeping them safe, we knew that the disruption would affect them in various ways. The real work began.” (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Carolyn Johnson-Dean isn’t exactly closing the door on taking the ‘interim’ off of her current role as president of LeMoyne-Owen College, but when asked about the possibility, she clearly imagines someone else in the job.

“I think the board is going to take its time, but not too long,” Johnson-Dean said in an exclusive interview with The New Tri-State Defender. “(They’ll) define what leadership priorities (they) want to set for leadership. And I want to help and support in any way possible.

“And I certainly look forward to being back on the boards supporting the president that they choose sometime over the next year,” she added.

But make no mistake, she’s not there just to take up space.

“We can’t just stand and do nothing,” she said. “I’m not a placeholder. I want to operate with a sense of urgency, because our students deserve everything that we can do to make their experience great.”

Over the course of a wide-ranging interview, Johnson-Dean spoke about the challenges facing HBCUs, how her previous experience as Superintendent of Memphis City Schools will help her in her new role, and she even weighs in on the rivalry with Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss.

Johnson-Dean will officially become interim president at LeMoyne-Owen on August 26. The LOC Board of Trustees voted not to renew the contract of Dr. Andrea Miller, who had become a polarizing figure on campus, with both faculty and students calling for her ouster.

Johnson-Dean steered clear of criticizing her predecessor.

“I believe Dr. Miller was very committed to the work of LeMoyne-Owen,” Johnson Miller said. “I can’t speak for how individual board members felt or voted, but I do think we have some momentum in place. And I’ve had a positive conversation with President Miller and I know that she deeply wanted the best for the college.”

Look for the extended version of our story later this week — both here on Tri-StateDefender.com and in our print edition!