ACE, TIAA Institute Honor Cuyahoga Community College President with 2022 Hesburgh Award
March 07, 2022

In partnership with ACE, the TIAA Institute is pleased to announce today that Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) President Dr. Alex Johnson has won the 2022 TIAA Institute Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence in Higher Education.

The annual award, presented during ACE2022​, recognizes a college or university president or chancellor whose outstanding leadership has made a major contribution to higher education and society at large.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award on behalf of all who serve Cuyahoga Community College,” said Dr. Johnson. “It recognizes their dedication, passion and commitment to helping our students succeed in the classroom and in life. Echoing the legacy of Father Hesburgh, this great honor underscores the important role that community colleges play in strengthening society by helping individuals to experience the dignity of work and the happiness of a fulfilling life.”

Cuyahoga Community College President Alex Johnson (middle) with ACE President Ted Mitchell and Christina Cutlip, TIAA senior managing director and head of strategic client engagement.

During his nine-year tenure, Dr. Johnson has transformed Tri-C’s downtown Cleveland Metropolitan Campus and secured a $10 million donation – the largest in the college’s history – to create the Jack, Joseph,​ and Morton Mandel Humanities Center and establish a permanent endowment to support the center and its initiatives. Along with transforming the college physically, Dr. Johnson has transformed the growth and success of Tri-C students, establishing numerous initiatives to improve graduation rates and economic equity throughout the Greater Cleveland area. 

"Under President Johnson’s leadership, Tri-C has expanded industry partnerships, developed community resources and introduced new academic programs—all in the service of preparing students for careers that pay a sustainable wage,” said David P. Richardson, head of the TIAA Institute. “His achievements provide a model for community colleges nationwide.”

“Dr. Johnson is an inspirational and innovative leader who has expanded access to higher education and increased the opportunity for social and economic mobility for hundreds of thousands of students at Cuyahoga Community College and the other institutions he has served so well,” said ACE Ted Mitchell. “ACE is proud to join the TIAA Institute in honoring such a transformational figure in American higher education. Alex’s unwavering dedication to bettering the lives of his students by providing high-quality, affordable postsecondary education is true to the spirit and commitment exemplified by Rev. Hesburgh.”