Faculty group Connection empowers professor through academic shift 

School of Nursing Assistant Professor, Alisha Johnson finds support and encouragement in career switch to research from faculty group Connection.

Questioning the way things work can be a scary process – but it can also be rewarding.  

Alisha Johnson, assistant professor at the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri, discovered this when she arrived and chose to shift her career focus from the practical world of clinical nursing to the immersive realm of research.   

Johnson’s work centers around enhancing nursing homes and the well-being of their residents.  

”I research how to make nursing homes better, how to improve the workforce in nursing homes and how to make life better for nursing home residents,” she said.  

As she shifted her focus to research, Johnson began searching for guidance and other faculty members who could offer advice. This brought her to Connection, a faculty support group led by Maurice Gipson, vice chancellor for the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, and Candace Kuby, associate provost for faculty success.  

Igniting collaboration  

After Johnson joined Connection in the spring of 2023, the group began nurturing her academic growth and encouraged her to venture out into uncharted territory, sparking her passion for working with scholars from diverse academic backgrounds.  

“Connection has allowed me to connect with other faculty who are also making the transition or have successfully transitioned to tenure track,” Johnson said. “Also, I’ve met some other folks who’ve expanded my thinking.”   

Her involvement in Connection has provided her with new opportunities, particularly her engagement in a subgroup tasked with designing a research day. This initiative has facilitated interdisciplinary collaboration, propelling her research endeavors forward.   

“As a newer faculty, it helps to have those pushes to get things done,” Johnson said. “It has been great meeting with those folks to discuss what we want to accomplish and what’s already being done on campus, so we aren’t recreating the wheel.”    

Newfound community  

Outside of professional development, Johnson says she appreciates the community aspect of the group. Connection fosters an environment where faculty members from diverse backgrounds share their stories and collectively pursue knowledge while supporting one another.  

“I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of joy when we get together,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot of sharing where we’re at in our journeys. It’s a lot of camaraderie about what it means to live in Columbia, to be faculty at Mizzou.”  

Navigating new spheres in the faculty world can be challenging, and Connection has provided a break from the stresses and anxiety of these changes. Having a community where she can authentically show up and connect with others has been instrumental in Johnson’s journey. 

“Connection is a venue where people are on even ground,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed meeting people outside of my wheelhouse, outside of my gender, outside of my race, outside of my ethnicity and with different lived experiences.”  

This article was originally written and posted on MU's Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity website on Feb. 13, 2023.

Related posts


A Heart of Black and Gold

From caring for patients to cheering on the Tigers as a member of the Golden Girls dance team, St. Louis native Jamalon Alonso said she’s grateful for every opportunity she’s had at the University of Missouri.


A Calling from the Heart

24 years in military service helped this Mizzou grad discover his true calling to serve. Despite the challenges and the passage of time, John "Theo" Theobald proved that age does not hinder one's dreams when they put their mind to it.


Handling Stress and Preparing for the Real World

Balancing the demands of clinicals and college life is no small feat, especially for an exceptional nursing student like Hanna Weber.