By Bronson Peshlakai
Dr. Alex Johnson is one of the finalists selected by a search committee to fill the shoes of president of Cuyahoga Community College once Jerry Sue Thornton retires June 30.
Johnson was warmly received by an audience at a May 10 presidential candidates forum that included many whom remembered him when he served as president at Tri-C Metro from 1993 to 2003. Since then he was a chancellor at Delgado Community College in New Orleans, La., from 2004 to 2008. It was on his watch that he saw great devastation to his campus and the surrounding community in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he told the audience at the forum.
“We were closed for an entire semester,” Johnson said. “Over 60 percent of the facilities were either damaged or were completely destroyed by the hurricane.”
Johnson said restructuring the college to full operation was both a challenge, but an accomplishment — a strong leadership factor he said he can contribute to Tri-C if selected as the next president.
Currently Johnson is president of the Community College of Allegheny College, located in and around the Pittsburgh area. The college has four campuses, five college, and about 60,000 credit- and noncredit-seeking students. In Johnson’s current contract he makes about $250,500 a year, about $10,000 less than Thornton’s current salary.
When Tri-C announced its two finalists May 6, it wasn’t known to the CCAC community that Johnson was seeking other opportunities.
“I wanted to inform you in advance of news that is expected to appear soon in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. I have been named a finalist for the presidency of Cuyahoga Community College,” he said in an e-mail to the CCAC community. “With my children and grandchildren all living in Cleveland, I felt that I could not let the opportunity pass to talk with Cuyahoga officials about the position.”
Board Chair Jerry Kelsheimer said the next step is for the board to discuss who will be the better leader and who will keep Tri-C’s mission moving forward. Not even one business day has passed since both candidates, Johnson and Lars Hafner, answered questions at the forum, that the board of trustees has announced a special board meeting Tuesday, May 14.
The Voice will provide continuing coverage on a search for a new president.