Students, faculty react to death of LSU journalism school Dean; ‘we thought he was going to be with us for a long time’

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A small memorial sits in front of LSU’s journalism building following the death of Dr. Martin Johnson. Johnson was the Dean of the university’s Manship School of Mass Communication. He was 50.

“He made the Manship School feel like home, he was a light in the manship school,” Katherine Manuel said.

Faculty and students say his death comes as a surprise.

“I was in complete and utter shock,” Lara Nicholson said. “He had only been dean for a couple of years, we thought he was going to be with us for a long time, ” Dr. Christopher Drew said.

Drew is a professor at the Manship School. He says what he appreciated the most about Johnson was his willingness to get involved and his devotion to his students.

“There’d be a freshman night to learn about organizations at the school and he’d be there, he’d have dinner with the dean, he’d go to tailgate parties,” Drew said.

Johnson graduated from LSU in 1991 and he the first Manship dean to have graduated from the school. Students say no matter the circumstances, Johnson was always approachable.

“From a student’s perspective, a dean is somebody who’s name is on your diploma, they sign the papers, they’re at the events, but this guy was funny,” Wade Henderson said.” “This guy was personable, this guy was on the same playing field as everybody else, he was a human.”

As those that knew and loved him try to pick up the pieces after enduring such an unexpected heartbreak, they say they’ll never forget Dean Johnson and the lives he touched.

“I was hoping he’d be alive for years, all I can say is that his memory will be,” Henderson said.

Johnson is survived by his wife and their son.

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