Rowan Names Planetarium Director

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Rowan University has named Keith Johnson as director of the Fredric and Jean Edelman Planetarium, part of Science Hall that opened in September.

Johnson comes to Rowan from the University of Nevada

Rowan University has named Keith Johnson as director of the Fredric and Jean Edelman Planetarium, part of Science Hall that opened in September.

Johnson comes to Rowan from the University of Nevada, Reno, where he served as associate director of the Fleischmann Planetarium for 15 years. Prior to that, he was assistant director of the University of Arkansas Planetarium in Little Rock and director of the Odessa College Planetarium in Odessa, Texas. He also worked as a research assistant/telescope operator for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Tucson and Green Bank stations.

A frequent writer on astronomy and naked-eye observing topics, Johnson earned a B.A. in physics from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, and an M.S. in astronomy from the University of Arizona. He is a member of the International Planetarium Society, for which he has served as treasurer/membership chair, and the Pacific Planetarium Association, for which he has been secretary-treasurer. He is a former member of the Southwestern Association of Planetariums, for which he had been secretary-treasurer.

The Rowan planetarium is a focal point of the new Science Hall on the Glassboro campus, and it has been designed to serve both the University community and the community at large. The goal of the planetarium is to provide educationally sound and entertaining programs that teach the members of the Rowan community, kindergarten through 12th grade students in the region, and the general public while advancing the understanding of the universe and serving as a public resource for astronomical information.

At Rowan, Johnson?s responsibilities will include directing and overseeing programming, planning, and organization of activities for the planetarium and related observatory events. These activities involve developing and implementing public and K-12 outreach programs, supervising undergraduate participation in outreach activities, collaborating with local school districts, and conducting research in science education. Johnson also will work closely with faculty in the use of the planetarium and observatory in undergraduate curriculum development.

?I am most pleased that we were able to attract a director of Keith?s caliber,? said Dr. Jay Harper, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Rowan. ?He has extensive experience directing planetarium operations and developing shows. I expect that the Edelman Planetarium will become a beacon for those interested in cosmic events.?

Noted Johnson of his appointment, ?I am very excited to be a part of a team that was able to create such a marvelous facility. The Edelman Planetarium was obviously well-planned, and includes some excellent features not present in many mid-sized university planetariums. Clearly the project was designed and intended to succeed from its inception. It will be a pleasure to become a part of the program.?

Johnson said that while the main goal of the facility will be to provide education in astronomy and space science for Rowan students, local schools, and the general public, the staff also will include some activities outside these limits, such as laser light shows and performing arts events.

?To accomplish these things, I expect to form partnerships with many other individuals and agencies, not only within the borders of Rowan University but extending out to the larger community of which Rowan is a part. I welcome discussions with anyone interested in the program,? Johnson said.

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