The TIAA Institute Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for leadership excellence in higher education

Alex Johnson, president of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®), has won the 2022 TIAA Institute Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence in Higher Education. An independent panel of judges selected President Johnson in recognition of all he has done to strengthen Tri-C’s operations, increase educational access and alleviate poverty in the Greater Cleveland area.

When he was named its president in 2013, Tri-C graduated fewer than 2,500 students annually across its four campuses and had an IPEDS graduation rate of 3.7%. In the 2020-2021 academic year, the college conferred 4,600 degrees, despite Covid-19’s impact, and raised its IPEDS graduation rate more than sixfold, to 24.3%.

President Johnson achieved this success by transforming Tri-C’s capacity to train people for careers in STEM, manufacturing, information technology and health care—and by expanding educational equity, success and completion for disadvantaged students.  In the process, he has made Tri-C an engine of economic growth in Northeast Ohio and helped countless individuals achieve their personal and educational ambitions.

The Hesburgh Award is named in honor of the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., (1917-2015), past president of the University of Notre Dame, world-renowned humanitarian, and longtime member of the TIAA and CREF Boards of Overseers.

 Alex Johnson, president of Cuyahoga Community College, winner of the 2022 Hesburgh Award

Previous winners

Ruth J. Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University, winner of the 2021 Hesburgh Award

Joseph Aoun, president of Northeastern University, winner of the 2020 Hesburgh Award

Shirley Reed, president of South Texas College, winner of the 2020 Hesburgh Award