Faculty Resources

DeBartolo Endowed Chair

Meredith Johnson

After a rigorous application process, the Humanities Institute is delighted to welcome Dr. Meredith Johnson as the 2023 - 2025 Edward DeBartolo Endowed Chair. Her energy, vision, and scholarship are going to be a tremendous addition to HI.

Q: What are you most excited about as part of your new position as the DeBartolo Endowed Chair?

A: As DeBartolo Endowed Chair, I will lead an innovative, interdisciplinary mentoring initiative that integrates evidence-based practices shown to cultivate and sustain well-being. I’m most excited to bring faculty and graduate students back together after such a sustained period of isolation and hardship. My work during the next several years will foster meaningful social connections among peers, help participants cultivate their sense of purpose, support behavioral and physical health, and aid in professional development.

Q: How long have you been a faculty member at USF?

A: I joined the faculty at USF in 2007. Previously, I studied here as an undergraduate in the 1990s. The transformation that has occurred during my 20+ years of coming to campus is remarkable. Walking under the flowering trellis bursting with bougainvillea, by the bronze bull statues in the Marshall Center’s South Plaza, and into the spacious MSC atrium would have been unimaginable back then.

Q: Do you have a favorite class(es) you've taught?

A: My work with the Judy Genshaft Honors College (JGHC) has been especially rewarding. I recently taught an ethics seminar that emphasized civic engagement with its semester-long focus on health equity and service-learning. My JGHC students designed accessible and inclusive documents for visually impaired readers now in use by our client, the Florida Department of Health-Hillsborough. In fall 2023, I am teaching a new honors course, The Science of Happiness and Well-Being, which dovetails with my work as the DeBartolo Endowed Chair.

Q: What are you reading right now?

A: Listening to audiobooks is one of my favorite hobbies. I lean heavily towards fiction in my free time, most recently Hanya Yanagihara’s novels A Little Life and To Paradise. Both books offer deeply moving stories about the impulse to protect our loved ones and the suffering we endure when we aren’t up to the task. 

Q: Why do you think the humanities are an important area of study?

A: What does it mean to live a good life? Under which conditions do people flourish personally and collectively? These questions are central to my work as the DeBartolo Endowed Chair, and they cannot be fully addressed without the insights contributed by those studying language, philosophy, history, ethics, religion, the arts, and other humanistic fields of inquiry.


The two-year rotating DeBartolo Endowed Chair within the Humanities Institute seeks to recognize a tenured CAS faculty member who is both an active scholar and engaged teacher. The DeBartolo Chair will be expected to be an active participant in the campus community and oversee a major project (or series of projects) for the USF Humanities Institute within one of the Institute’s areas of strategic growth:

    • Advancing interdisciplinary connections and collaborations between departments, schools, and/or colleges
    • Developing support for faculty seeking promotion to associate or full professor
    • Creating community and professional opportunities for graduate students
    • Expanding community outreach

The DeBartolo Endowed Chair will receive

    • One course release per semester to work on projects that support the Humanities Institute
    • An annual stipend of $20,000
    • Significant financial support for projects within the Humanities Institute
    • A private office in the Humanities Institute suite
    • $10,000 annual personal research fund to continue personal research efforts