SJU Names Center to Honor Fallen Student

Richard Johnson Center for Anti-Violence to be formally dedicated

Thursday, January 12, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (January 12, 2012) — Saint Joseph’s University will pay tribute to Philadelphia native Richard Johnson, who was shot and killed in 2005 by a 15-year-old assailant before the start of his freshman year at Saint Joseph’s University. SJU’s Institute for Violence Research and Prevention (IVRP), established in 2001, will formally change its name to the Richard Johnson Center for Anti-Violence during a dedication ceremony to be held Thursday, Jan. 19, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Merion Hall (located on the James J. Maguire ’58 Campus).

“The year 2005 saw hundreds of murders in Philadelphia, but Richard’s loss had particular impact at SJU, where he was set to enroll on full academic scholarship.” says Maria Kefalas, Ph.D., professor of sociology and director of the Richard Johnson Center. “The renaming of the IVRP is the University’s way of reaffirming our commitment to reducing violence in our great city and remembering those we have lost, especially our youth.”

The IVRP has received more than $700,000 in funding from the William T. Grant Foundation, the Catherine T. and John D. MacArthur Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Guided by the Jesuit mission to be men and women for others, the IVRP has studied cities, young people, crime, families, and societal inequalities. The Richard Johnson Center will continue, as the IVRP did, to host an annual youth summit, a vigil to remember the city’s homicide victims, and an annual symposium series on topics ranging from gun violence to bullying.

Among the Richard Johnson Center’s priorities is the Philadelphia Youth Solutions Project (, a viral effort to create a social media community for young people consider solutions to Philadelphia Violence epidemic. The project has brought SJU together with the City of Philadelphia, the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and the Philadelphia Youth Commission.

Catherine Young, Johnson’s mother, will speak at the dedication. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will share videotaped remarks and District Attorney Seth Williams and Mayor Nutter's Chief of Staff Everett Gillison are expected to be in attendance, along with other elected officials.

Media Contact

Kelly Welsh, Director of Communications/College of Arts and Sciences, University Communications, 610-660-1385,

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