Cuyahoga Community College President Alex Johnson will retire in June

Alex Johnson
Alex Johnson took office in 2013, serving as Tri-C's fourth full-time president. [Cuyahoga Community College]

Updated: 4:42 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021

After nearly a decade leading Cuyahoga Community College, President Alex Johnson is retiring at the end of June.

Johnson announced the news to Tri-C staff and students during a virtual town hall Wednesday.

“This is a difficult decision because I love Tri-C, believe wholeheartedly in its mission and have had the privilege of working alongside so many amazing people in the eight years I’ve led the College,” Johnson said prior to the town hall. “But the time is right to let new leadership take the reins and build upon what we’ve accomplished. And we’ve accomplished so much.”

Johnson said the time is right to announce his resignation, in an interview with Ideastream Public Media Wednesday, because “the college is in really great shape despite having gone through the pandemic.

“There were a lot of challenges moving at warp speed to get individuals into classes virtually, to provide them with the technology support that they needed to be successful,” Johnson said. “But there were also a lot of opportunities for us to look at the student journey and to modify it, to ensure that it was associated with the work experience, that we provided 24-7 support for students, that we extended our outreach in the communities where they live, and that we would increase our workforce offerings to accommodate the needs of the business community.”

When Johnson reflects on his time as head of Tri-C, he said he’s most proud of “our student achievement and outcomes.”

“For example, our graduation rate and the time in which it takes individuals to complete their education improved significantly. The number of certificates and degrees awarded this year are the highest in the history of the institution. We've done an extraordinary job of building and modifying facilities to meet the workforce needs of our community, new program offerings, particularly in our workforce area,” Johnson said.

He’s also proud of the “extraordinary contributions of our faculty and staff” helping students reach their educational goals. He shared some parting words for his staff.

“We really need to continue to ratchet up our efforts to ensure that more students complete their education and that they can use that in order to promote their development in the workforce and also in their communities. And I've conveyed that message to my colleagues,” Johnson said.

During the morning town hall announcing Johnson’s resignation, Board Chair Helen Forbes Fields told the crowd that Johnson delayed his retirement in order to help lead the college through the pandemic. She called Johnson a “hard act to follow.”

“We have all benefited from his visionary and compassionate leadership and his commitment to Tri-C’s mission, its students, faculty and staff,” Forbes Field said. “He set the bar high, and, with your support, took the college to new heights. Together, you have created opportunities for those who are most in need.”

In a written statement, the Tri-C board touted Johnson’s leadership during the pandemic, working to set up vaccination and testing clinic as well as getting students back to in-person classes on campus and also providing remote learning options.

“One of the most enduring memories I’ll take with me is how we rallied to support one another and the College’s mission despite the difficulties created by the pandemic,” Johnson said. “I saw great inner strength and resolve from our students, faculty and staff that continues to this day. I’ve always been proud of Tri-C, but I’ve never been prouder of the Tri-C family than I have been during the pandemic.”

A national firm will search for Johnson's replacement with the aim of having a new president selected by the spring.

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