INTO CSU names new academic director


INTO CSU has named Merrill Johnson as its new academic director. Johnson began the new position this summer, hoping to contribute his passion of internationalization to INTO CSU, a program that facilitates the integration of international students into university life.

“Dr. Johnson came to us with vast administrative experiences, so I strongly believe he will represent us very well across the university community and will be a main contributor to our program expansion in the area of Pathway programs,” said Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, director of INTO CSU. “Our Pathway programs help prepare English learners for academic success at CSU.”

Supporting internationalization

Johnson graduated from high school in London, Ontario, and went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in international relations with honors in political science from West Texas State University. A newfound passion for geography led him to Arizona State University, where he earned his M.A. in geography. After contemplating a career in the U.S. Foreign Service, Johnson opted to return to his southern roots to pursue a Ph.D. in geography at the University of Georgia and a career in academia. Before joining INTO CSU on June 15, Johnson spent nearly three decades at the University of New Orleans. Beginning as an assistant professor of geography, Johnson made his way up the ranks to become a full professor. Administratively, he served as a department chair, associate dean, acting dean and associate provost. He left UNO as the associate vice president of academic affairs.

During his time at UNO, Johnson directed an international recruiting program in Latin America. Throughout his nine years as director, Johnson and his team had up to 137 Latin American students at the university at one time.

“When I was doing the Latin America program, a Pathway opportunity like what INTO CSU offers would have been very helpful,” Johnson said. “The Pathway concept is only a part of campus internationalization, though. In its larger sense, it’s about creating a mindset and understanding the interconnectedness of the world.”


INTO CSU, a joint venture between Colorado State University and the INTO University Partnerships of Brighton, England, was established in 2012 with 350 students from 33 different countries and a teaching staff of more than 30. The center’s student population now stands at more than 500.

“The main goal of INTO CSU is to deliver an exceptional academic and student experience to international students whose dominant language is not English,” said Ehlers-Zavala. “By offering a variety of educational programs, we work towards ensuring that students who come to INTO CSU accomplish their academic, personal and social goals. We strive to give them the preparation needed to be successful at CSU, ranging from helping them acquire English for specific academic purposes to learning to navigate their new community on and off campus.”

INTO CSU offers general and academic English programs, as well as five undergraduate and 10 graduate academic Pathway programs. Successful completion of an undergraduate Pathway assures students a place in the second year of a CSU undergraduate degree program, while completing a graduate Pathway progresses students toward their relevant graduate degree.

INTO CSU, located in historic Spruce Hall, also offers a variety of services to assist international students in a quick adjustment to life in the United States, including a Learning Resource Center, small class sizes and fully equipped technology lounges. International students in the INTO CSU program also have access to all university resources, services and facilities.