By Bronson Peshlakai
Cuyahoga Community College President Jerry Sue Thornton announced to the college board of trustees Jan. 24 her intent to retire from her position at the end of her contract, which ends June 30, 2013.
Thornton, 66, served as president of Tri-C for 21 years and is credited for raising tens of millions of dollars for student scholarships when she started the Tri-C Presidential Scholarship Luncheon in her inaugural year at Tri-C.
“I started the presidential scholarship luncheon with my inauguration,” Thornton said. “Instead of an inauguration, we had the first luncheon. If the new president wants, I will be more than happy to participate.”
Board of Trustee David Whitehead will lead a search committee for the next president. The college is expected to hire an executive search firm as well.
Whitehead said among other attributes, the committee will be looking for a candidate that has an outstanding academic credentials and leadership capability.
“We will be looking for someone we feel will be comfortable in this environment. We have a Midwestern environment, but we also have some of the east coast added into the Cleveland area,” Whitehead said. “Dr. Thornton was not from Cleveland, but she adapted and did outstanding in her tenure.”
He added that Thornton’s tenure here has raised the bar of excellence at the college and he anticipates outstanding candidates to apply for the job.
“I think that there is so much talent that the college will have great applicants,” Thornton said. “Their challenge will be to select among the candidates that are interested. They are thinking about the future of the college and where it wants to go and making the right decision (on a candidate) in terms of the best fit.”
Thornton said she is looking forward to volunteering in the Cleveland area after her retirement, and to take some vacations and catching up on family matters.
The college has already set up a Web site at www.tri-c-search.com that gives information about the presidential search. Whitehead said the search committee will seek input from all walks of life at the college: students, faculty, union representatives among the list.
The Tri-C Presidential Scholarship Luncheon, initiated by Thornton, has seen notable keynote speakers such as Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Tom Brokaw, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Blair, and this fall, Madeleine Albright.