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Department of Sociology and Anthropology

William A. Johnson, Jr.

faculty photoDistinguished Professor of Public Policy and Urban Studies


M.A. Political Science, Howard University, 1967
B.A. Political Science, Howard University, 1965


The application of governmental policies to distressed cities, regional governments, state and local government reform, smart growth and sprawl, citizen engagement, community economic development.

Biographic Information

This self-described ‘prac-ademic’ has combined an early teaching career in political science with field experience in human services (President and CEO of the Urban League of Rochester for 21 years), and electoral politics (Mayor of Rochester for 12 years). He is also the recipient of four honorary doctorates from Rochester-area colleges.

During Mayor Johnson’s tenure, Rochester initiated many innovative programs, in the areas of citizen empowerment, community policing, neighborhood residential and commercial revitalization, youth leadership development, and waterfront revitalization. More than 1500 new and rehabilitated homes replaced dilapidated structures, and new market rate housing was built in downtown and along the waterfront.  Five new supermarkets were built in the inner city, marking a reversal in the flight of grocery stores from the urban core. Neighborhood Empowerment Teams were located throughout the city to provide a rapid response to ‘quality of life’ issues. Youth leadership teams were established at each recreation center. The Port of Rochester was re-built around a new ferry service to Toronto, two major music festivals were inaugurated, and three major sports arenas were constructed in the downtown area.