Greensboro College Announces 2019 Baccalaureate and Commencement Speakers

May 1, 2019 10:11 am
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George R. Johnson

Elon School of Law portraits. Dean George Johnson. (photo by Kim Walker)

GREENSBORO, N.C. – A Greensboro College trustee and retired law-school dean will address Greensboro College’s 2019 graduates at Commencement May 11, and a minister and alumnus of the college will speak at the college’s Baccalaureate/Cap & Gown ceremony May 10.

The commencement speaker will be George R. Johnson Jr., dean emeritus and professor of law at the Elon University School of Law. Johnson has served since 2017 on the Greensboro College Board of Trustees.

His speech is titled, “To Build Up AND to Tear Down.”

Johnson was appointed dean on Feb. 1, 2009, after having served as interim dean since Aug. 1, 2008. He retired from the deanship in 2014 and returned to the faculty, where he continues to teach first-year law students. Currently he also serves as interim chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at N.C. A&T State University.

Immediately prior to joining the law faculty at Elon University, he was a principal in a Washington-based law and consulting firm. He also has been a senior consultant with Washington-based Academic Search Consultation Service (now AGB Search), the nation’s oldest and largest higher-education executive search firm.

Johnson also served six years as president of LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis. Prior to that, he had served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and professor in the School of Law at Howard University.

The Rev. Ben Roberts '08

The Rev. Ben Roberts ’08

Prior to Howard, Johnson had been a professor in the School of Law at George Mason University in Virginia; Assistant General Counsel in the Executive Office of the President of the United States; and Assistant Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on Banking, Finance & Urban Affairs.

Johnson has been a member of the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, Amherst College, where he served on the Audit Committee and the Committee on Instruction and chaired the Student Life Committee. He also has served on the boards of the United Negro College Fund, the Council of Independent Colleges, the Amistad Research Center, the Economic Club of Memphis, and Universal Life Insurance Company.

In Greensboro, in addition to his service on the Greensboro College board, he serves on the boards of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), Triad Stage, and Gateway Research Park. He is an active member of Providence Baptist Church in Greensboro, where he has served in a number of leadership positions.

He holds a bachelor’s degree cum laude from Amherst College and a law degree from Columbia University. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar, the American Bar Association (of which he is a Fellow), and the National Bar Association.

The speaker for the college’s Baccalaureate/Cap & Gown ceremony, a worship service traditionally held on the eve of graduation, will be the Rev. Ben Roberts ’08, associate pastor and director of social justice at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.

His speech is titled, “Delighting in the Human Race.”

Roberts has served in his current position since his graduation from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington in 2013. Prior to that, he had taught Sunday school classes at the church for two years while a seminary student.

Also while a seminary student, he served a two-year field placement on Capitol Hill with the public policy arm of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS).

While at GBCS, he worked on Peace with Justice issues, including the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan, conflict minerals in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel/Palestine peace efforts, and the United Methodist program known as Imagine No Malaria. During this time Ben also worked for three years at American University in its Housing and Dining Programs.

Roberts entered Wesley after graduating from Greensboro College in 2008, but after one year, feeling he needed to “do something,” he left for a year to work with an international nonprofit teaching English in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. There, he taught classes out of his house in a private program as well as teaching classes at three local high schools.

He was ordained with full clergy orders as a deacon in 2017 by the North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and is officially on loan to the Baltimore-Washington Conference for his appointment.

In his present role, Ben oversees 13 ministry teams working in various areas of justice and mercy ministries, from cooking and clothing to securing identification documents, advocating for more just policies for DC’s large un-housed population, and advancing efforts for full-inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in the life and ministry of The United Methodist Church.

Roberts received the Young Alumni Award from the Greensboro College Alumni Association in 2015. He was named by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward to The United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training fellowship in 2018.

He holds a B.A. in religion with minors in ethics and international studies from Greensboro College and an M.Div. from Wesley Theological Seminary.

The Baccalaureate/Cap & Gown service will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, May 10, in the Gail Brower Huggins Performance Center in Odell Building on campus. Seating is limited to graduates, their families, faculty/staff, and invited guests.

Commencement will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, on front campus. All are invited.

Greensboro College provides a liberal arts education grounded in the traditions of the United Methodist Church and fosters the intellectual, social, and, spiritual development of all students while supporting their individual needs.

Founded in 1838 and located in downtown Greensboro, the college enrolls about 1,000 students from 29 states and territories, the District of Columbia, and seven foreign countries in its undergraduate liberal-arts program and six master’s degree programs. In addition to rigorous academics and a well-supported Honors program, the school features a 17-sport NCAA Division III athletic program and dozens of service and recreational opportunities. Learn more at greensboro.edu.

Think critically. Act justly. Live faithfully.


Media Contact:
Lex Alexander, Director of Communications

Greensboro College
815 W. Market St.
Greensboro, NC 27401
336-272-7102, ext. 5398
Cell: 336-707-6617

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