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'The time is right': Tri-C President Alex Johnson to retire next year

'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.'

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga Community College President Dr. Alex Johnson announced Wednesday that he will retire after nearly a decade of leadership at the school

Students, faculty and staff at Tri-C were informed of Johnson’s retirement via a virtual town hall meeting. His term will officially end on June 20, 2022.

"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 virtual gathering. "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 became the college's fourth full-time president. During his time as its leader, he oversaw increased graduation, new investments in workforce training and capital improvements, and the expansion of programs for those with low-income or who lived in disadvantaged communities.

"Alex Johnson has made an indelible mark on Tri-C and the Cleveland community," Tri-C Board Chair Helen Forbes Fields wrote. "As a result of his extraordinary leadership, the College has thrived and today is considered a vanguard institution among community colleges nationwide. I speak on behalf of the entire Board of Trustees and the College community when I say how much we will miss his passion and commitment to Tri-C’s mission and students."

Under Johnson, Tri-C's Nursing, Creative Arts, Public Safety, Hospitality Management, Information Technology and Manufacturing programs were reorganized into the Tri-C Centers of Excellence. He also oversaw a new physical transformation in 2017, which resulted from a $227 million capital bond issue. With the funding, the Western Campus STEM Center, the Westshore Campus Liberal Arts and Technology building, the Public Safety Simulated Scenario Village at the Western Campus, and the Advanced Technology Training Center at the Metropolitan Campus all received upgrades.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of last year, Johnson was faced with quickly altering the college's schedule and format. He led the school to adopt remote classes and workdays while also holding virtual town halls to discuss the effects of the health crisis, and to this day students and staff remain on a mixed schedule between online and in-person classes.

"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."

While serving as president, Johnson also authored two books: "Change the Lapel Pin" (2018) and "Capturing Change" (2021).

A national search firm will conduct the hiring of a new president next spring. Details on the search as they come will be posted on tri-c.edu/presidentsearch.