The Inauguration of Cuyahoga Community College’s Fifth President
The inauguration of the fifth president of Cuyahoga Community College was held on Friday, April 24, 2023, at 11 am. This event was located in the Metropolitan Campus to celebrate the legacy and building momentum.
The opening of the event began with the international students holding the flag of their respective country and in the end the American flag was put on stage. The faculty Dr. Phyllis Dukes-Hopson started the ceremony. Dr. Dukes-Hopson said: “I would like to thank all of the students that participated in the magnificent presentation of the flags, representing the homelands of our international students.” Also Dr. Dukes-Hopson informed the audience to remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, and The Star-Spangled Banner. The blessings of peace were given by Reverend Eric Garris, Rabbi Allison Vann, and Imam Ramez Islambouli.
During the ceremony there were many other respected guests including the chair of the Cuyahoga Community College board of trustees Helen Forbes Fields, Chancellor Randy Gardner, mayor Justin Bibb, joint-faculty senate chair Dr. Robert Johnson, and board student scholar Samantha Franco. The Cleveland Cholar was also invited to sing, with their mission being to provide hope, love, restoration, and transformation. The following guest speaker was Dr. Laura Bloomberg, the eighth president of Cleveland State University, followed by Dr. Tonja Williams. After Dr.Tonja Williams, the following guest was Dr. Walter Bumphus. Dr. Bumpus said “…Cuyahoga was one of the first colleges that I wanted to visit when I started looking at becoming a college president chancellor. […] I had people tell me this before, “Tri-c is like a family.”” The ceremony was continued by the Tri-C Creative Arts Academy string quartet presented “Spring” by Antonio Vivaldi.
Dr. Helen Forbes Fields introduced on stage the Cuyahoga Community College President Emerita Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton and Dr. Alex Johnson. Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton served as the president of Cuyahoga Community College from 1992-2013. Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton said “We would like to congratulate in advance Dr. Michael Baston, and his wonderful wife Tasha and family who are here to celebrate with him. You are not only gaining an outstanding president Tri-C, but you are gaining an absolutely talented first lady as well.” Dr. Alex Johnson served as president of Cuyahoga Community College from 2013-2022. Dr. Alex Johnson said “I am so honored to be part of this great lineage of presidents that has been spoken about this afternoon. […] The second president who coined the beacon of hope on the Great Lakes for Cuyahoga Community College to ensure that it was open and accessible to all who wanted to experience the great education. And of course, Jerry Sue Thornton who brought Cuyahoga Community College to the attention of the nation’s educational leaders and made it a place where dreams are not only realized but a place where dreams can be made.”
After Dr. Johnson spoke, Dr. Helen Forbes Fields announced the most important moment of the ceremony, which was the investiture. Dr. Baston was invited on stage to pledge his oath of office as the fifth president of the Cuyahoga Community College. Then Dr. Michael Baston did his Inauguration Investiture Address. An inspiring speech that said: “I am humbled, and I am grateful. Humble that so many of you have chosen to be here today. Humbled to be part of such an incredible institution with such a bright and purposeful future. Grateful for the faith that you have placed in me to lead this institution forward.” He closed his speech by saying: “…that together we can make a difference. I’m persuaded because there are people in this room that will band together and work together and struggle together to help everyone in Northeast Ohio live their dreams and to be who were they meant to be.”
The ceremony concluded with the last remarks of Dr. Helen Forbes Fields, and the benediction given by Dr. Reverend James Quincy of Lee Road Baptist Church.