University Park, Pa. -- R. Neill Johnson, director of Penn State Learning in Undergraduate Education, is the 2011 recipient of the Barash Award for Human Service.
Created in 1975 by the family of the late Sy Barash, the award honors a full-time member of the faculty or staff or student body on the University Park campus, who, apart from his or her regular duties, has contributed the most to human causes, public service activities and organizations or the welfare of fellow humans.
Prior to his work with Penn State Learning, Johnson was director of Instructional Development and Research in the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, where he led efforts to provide support, services and resources to faculty and graduate student instructors engaged in improving teaching and learning at Penn State.
In the community, he served for six years on the board of directors, one as treasurer and three as president, of the House of Care, a nonprofit personal care home for low-income individuals with limited life expectancies. When the facility was in danger of closing several years ago, he was instrumental in obtaining funding to keep its doors open.
"If not for Neill's commitment to the House of Care and its residents," one nominator wrote, "it would no longer exist. Thanks to Neill's leadership, it is flourishing."
Active in the University Baptist and Brethren Church, Johnson was instrumental in establishing the church's Sexuality and Faith Committee, which led the congregation through a five-year education process resulting in their statement of Mission and Welcome that affirms people of all sexual orientations. He also regularly participates in the annual Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk at Penn State and in various Centre County United Way fundraising activities.