For 34 years, James Johnson has been a constant and integral presence at Sam Houston State University. Johnson is well known on campus for his human sexuality classes.
Johnson began teaching psychology at SHSU in 1969 after earning a doctorate degree in counseling psychology from Texas A&M.
“I was the first graduate of their Ph.D. in the whole program,” Johnson said.
Johnson worked as a teacher, counselor and principal in the public school system before and during his education at A&M.
In the early 1970s, Johnson said he was approached by the vice president of SHSU at the time and asked to oversee the development of a much needed Counseling Center for the university.
“So I wore two hats,” Johnson said. “I taught classes part time and did the center.”
The Counseling Center started out in a small room in Smith-Kirkley Hall, then moved to the former education building, where it took up an entire floor. Now the Counseling Center occupies its own building.
Johnson said he is very proud of its progress.
Johnson said he is planning to retire from Sam Houston this May, but that his years here have been very good.
“I am really proud to have been a professor at Sam Houston,” Johnson said. “I’m glad to see it growing, and I think it has a great future.”
While teaching at SHSU, Johnson has maintained a popular reputation with students, and even won the Excellence in Teaching Award in 1997.
“That was probably one of the highlights of my career,” he said.
Johnson said in his spare time he enjoys gardening, fishing and racquetball.
He said he chose to teach at Sam Houston because he felt Huntsville was a good place to raise his four children.
While he has taught a variety of psychology classes, Johnson now specializes in teaching human sexuality, a junior level class, and sex therapy at the graduate level.
Though not a requirement, Johnson said human sexuality has been a very popular course with students and one he feels is very important.
“People don’t know anything about it,” Johnson said. “They have absolutely no clue about the fundamentals of human sexuality.”
With two sections of the class usually offered each semester, Johnson said about 125 students fill the seats in each, making it a large class by Sam Houston State standards.
“So I have literally taught thousands of students,” he said.
Johnson said what he finds most important in teaching human sexuality is a clarification of values.
“The class causes students to stop and clarify their sexual values,” Johnson said.
Treating people fairly is what Johnson said he strives for, and to be honest in all aspects of his life.
“What you see is what you get,” he said. “I’m a real person.”