Alex Johnson named president of Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio

Cuyahoga Community College May 15, 2013

Alex Johnson chosen to lead Cuyahoga Community College

Dr. Alex Johnson, who led Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus from 1993 to 2003, will return to the College in July as its fourth permanent president, the Board of Trustees announced today.

“Since leaving his position as Metropolitan Campus president a decade ago, Dr. Johnson has gained vital experience in two very diverse community college environments,” said Jerry L. Kelsheimer, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “He brings a unique perspective that is both internal and external, and we are extremely pleased that Cuyahoga Community College’s continued growth will be carried out under his strong leadership.”

Johnson is currently president of the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), where he focuses on strengthening the college’s core mission of providing affordable access to quality education for nearly 60,000 students annually at nine campuses and centers in greater Pittsburgh. After leaving Tri-C in 2003, he became chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans, serving in that capacity during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

In returning to Tri-C, Johnson will succeed Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, who has guided unprecedented institutional development during 21 years as president. Thornton announced in January that she would retire, effective June 30.

“As Metropolitan Campus president I had the great privilege to serve under and work closely with Dr. Thornton for 10 years,” said Johnson. “It is indeed both an honor and very humbling that the Board has the confidence in my ability to build upon her tremendous legacy.

“During its 50-year history, Tri-C has become noted for innovations in the use of technology for instructional design and delivery, cultural advancements like JazzFest, and other achievements including the Corporate College. I look forward to continuing to foster such achievements befitting a League for Innovation institution, but more importantly continuing to advance its ‘learning-centered’ philosophy to improve access, learning and attainment.”

Finalists participated in College forums last week at the Metropolitan Campus. Kelsheimer said additional meetings with faculty, staff and students will be scheduled over the next four to six weeks after Johnson winds down the responsibilities of his current position.

“Thanks to Tri-C’s reputation and record of success, there was tremendous interest in this opportunity,” said Kelsheimer. “Ultimately, Dr. Johnson was the clear choice among a very strong group of candidates.

“In Dr. Johnson, we have found a strong leader with the ability to extend his influence beyond the College itself. He has an absolute commitment to student success and to supporting our faculty and staff and has demonstrated his ability to manage fiscal affairs responsibly. Moreover, he will be aligned and engaged with the community’s needs and interests, and willing and able to evolve our organization in response to a changing environment.”

The 20-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee, chaired by Trustee David W. Whitehead and including faculty, staff and community representation, narrowed the field to three finalists after interviewing eight candidates; one of the three subsequently withdrew from consideration for family reasons.

An executive-search firm had previously identified 15 “top candidates” after reviewing more than 40 applications. In addition to Johnson the committee interviewed Dr. Terrence J. Burgess, president of San Diego City College; Dr. Stephen M. Curtis, president of Community College of Philadelphia; Dr. Craig Foltin, executive vice president/treasurer, Administration & Finance, at Tri-C; Dr. Lars A. Hafner, former president of the State College of Manatee-Sarastota (Florida); Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, president of Sacramento City College; Dr. Belinda S. Miles, provost and executive vice president, Academic and Student Affairs, at Tri-C; and Dr. Daniel J. Phelan, president of Jackson Community College District.
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