Campus: CSU, Stanislaus -- February 23, 2001
Don Johnson Named Honorary Consul By Ethiopian Leaders
The Ethiopian government recently named Dr. Don Johnson,
adjunct professor with California State University,
Stanislaus, an honorary consul of Ethiopia for the West
Coast region of the United States. The Turlock resident
received recognition for his long-standing devotion to
improving the lives of Ethiopians.
Dr. Aseffa Abreha, a minister in the Ethiopian Prime
Minister's office, announced Dr. Johnson's citation during a
late January visit to CSU Stanislaus accompanied by a
delegation from the Ethiopian government. The visit provided
the occasion for the University and the government of
Ethiopia to renew their commitment to partnering in various
programs, including the CSU Stanislaus Ethiopia Project and
the American University of Ethiopia, which is in the
"Dr. Johnson has been instrumental in bringing people and
organizations together to help Ethiopia in all areas," said
Abreha, General Manager of the Ethiopian Rehabilitation and
Development Fund. The fund was established to help rebuild
the country after many years of civil war.
A team of American filmmakers accompanied a shipment of
powdered milk to Ethiopia from San Joaquin Valley dairies
last summer, documenting how the drought and famine-plagued
country is helping itself overcome severe poverty problems.
Johnson put his Ethiopian contacts in touch with Stevinson
dairy farmer Tony Azevedo, who spearheaded the donation
drive. Johnson also acted as liaison between the film crew
and the Ethiopians.
CSU Stanislaus President Dr. Marvalene Hughes applauded
Johnson's honorary appointment, noting his long-standing
"I very much admire the way Dr. Johnson has demonstrated his
commitment to the welfare of Ethiopia," President Hughes
said. "His devotion to this country is a key factor, and he
is facilitative in enabling the University to develop a
Having spent four years in Ethiopia and established close
ties with many of its people, Johnson responded to the call
"I wanted to focus on a country where I could help make a
difference," Johnson said. "Ethiopia has a great need and
the greatest potential of the countries I've had experience
with. I know the country and have learned that the people
there can do things for themselves if they get some
technical assistance. They are appreciative of that, but
they don't want it done for them. I see this as a two-way
venture, since there are things they are doing there that
can benefit people here."
A public health specialist, Johnson, 75, retired from the
World Health Organization (WHO) in 1985. His special
assignments have included the Philippines, Malaysia,
Nigeria, and Switzerland. Since retiring, he has provided
his international expertise as a consultant in Southeast
Asia, Africa, and three former Soviet republics.
Johnson said that dramatic progress has been made over the
past year in the relationship between CSU Stanislaus and
Ethiopia. Several University administrators, faculty and
students have spent time in Ethiopia, planning the American
University of Ethiopia, health worker and literacy training,
and agricultural programs.
"Ethiopians value this contact with CSU Stanislaus, and
there have been valuable exchanges as a result," Johnson
After receiving his doctorate at the University of
California, Berkeley in 1958, Johnson taught for four years
at his alma mater. His first international assignment was in
Ethiopia on a U.S. International Cooperation project with
his wife, Eva. He came back to California for jobs in
Monterey and Alameda County before returning to do more
public health training and supervise the establishment of 21
rural health centers.
Johnson has lived in the Turlock area for a number of years,
drawn to the area after spending summers with his
grandparents in Hilmar as a youngster.