Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, President Cuyahoga Community College, hosted a Town Hall meeting at the Westlake Westshore Campus Tues., March 26, where she was surprised with the establishment of a Scholarship Trust Fund in her honor.
The 21-year head the burgeoning community college will retire this June. She was honored at the end of her talk by Professor Terri Pope, Ph. D. who presented a check to establish a scholarship fund in honor of the outgoing Cuyahoga Community College president.
Dr. Thornton’s message in her talk: “It is a good time to go back to school and get that degree you may not have had time to get before,” she said. An enthusiastic promoter of the school, Tri-C has seen unprecedented growth under her leadership.
“Access and broader reach have been been benchmark goals that this campus has exceeded since it opened. We have experienced 24 per cent growth,” said Dr. J. Michael Thompson, President Westshore Campus.
“These past 21 years have been outstanding. This is just a wonderful college. but it is the people I will miss,” said Dr. Thornton.
Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough, from the audience, offered a statement of personal appreciation to Dr. Thornton. “Thank you for your vision, leadership and commitment to Cuyahoga Community College and the investment the college has made in Westlake,” said Clough. “This was sorely needed and offers a tremendous opportunity for the residents of our community and west side.”
“You welcomed us with open arms. This campus feels very much a part of the community – it has been fun to watch,” said Dr. Thornton.
Highlights of Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton’s Tri-C career include:
Enrollment has grown 40 percent – from 23,000 students on three campuses to more than 32,000 students on four campuses. In addition, more than 20,000 individuals are enrolled in workforce training programs at Tri-C’s Corporate Colleges, Unified Technology Center and Advanced Technology Training Center.
The College has maintained the lowest student tuition in Northeast Ohio and the second-lowest in the state.
The curriculum has grown to more than 1,000 credit courses in more than 140 career and technical programs each semester, as well as nearly 800 distance-learning courses and nearly 400 hybrid courses. Tri-C has focused heavily on programs to foster student success, and Technical Learning Centers on each campus provide access to computers and other technology for all students.
Major new construction and renovation projects totaling approximately $300 million have enhanced access to post-secondary education. Key projects have included the Westshore Campus in Westlake; two Corporate College campuses; the Brunswick University Center; the Advanced Technology Training Center and the acquisition of the Visiting Nursing Association (VNA) building adjacent to the Metropolitan Campus. The Eastern Campus has doubled in size with two new facilities while the Metropolitan and Western Campuses have each had two new buildings or additions. Reflecting the College’s commitment to environmental sustainability, much of the recent construction has been either LEED Silver or Gold Certified.
Tri-C has become a major economic factor in Cuyahoga County, employing more than 3,000 faculty and staff and adding more than $115 million in additional labor and non-labor income to the region.
Cuyahoga County voters have supported five countywide ballot issues. As the revenue and budget increased from $123 million to approximately $330 million, the College has maintained a strong bond rating second only to The Ohio State University and regularly received financial reporting awards from the Government Finance Officers Association.
Strong partnerships with PlayhouseSquare and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum have enabled the College to present Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland and other cultural arts programs to the community and resulted in the Rock Hall locating its Archives and Library at the new Center for Creative Arts on the Metropolitan Campus.
The Cuyahoga Community College Foundation endowment has grown from $1.3 million in 1992 to more than $38 million to support student scholarships and programs as an investment in student success.
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