Cuyahoga Community College Wins Award of Excellence from American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)

Tri-C TriC

Tri-C Honored for its Work in Leadership and Professional Development

Cleveland, OH – Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C ®) has won the Emerging Leadership award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Dr Jerry Sue Thornton -- color 2011 (high res)

Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, president of Cuyahoga Community College, received the honor, one of five Awards of Excellence announced last week during AACC’s annual convention in San Francisco.

Tri-C was among 24 community colleges nationwide to be honored by the AACC and the only college to be nominated twice. In addition to the Emerging Leadership award, Tri-C was one of five finalists in the Exemplary CEO/Board category. Other categories were Student Success, Advancing Diversity and Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership.

AACC established a national program this year to recognize innovation and promising practices among two-year colleges. The awards were aligned with key recommendations of the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, a blue-ribbon group which is recommending ways for community colleges to reinvent themselves, so more students graduate and help meet the country’s economic and workforce needs.

The AACC said that Dr. Thornton “has placed a high priority on a deep organizational culture of leadership and professional development.”

AACC noted that Tri-C has numerous opportunities for leadership and professional development, including monthly College-wide Cabinet meetings, which bring together more than 90 college leaders and annual retreats for College leadership and support staff.

The College’s Mandel Leadership Development Program was cited by the AACC as one of the most prestigious leadership programs at Tri-C. Since the Mandel program began in 2008 with funding from the Mandel Foundation, 134 staff and faculty members have participated in the year-long program.

Participants receive leadership assessments and develop leadership plans, receive mentoring, work on team projects and take part in workshops and lectures. While three different cohorts—faculty and emerging and executive leaders—participate in different activities, all of them gain a better understanding of student success, accessibility, teaching, learning and innovation as primary goals of Tri-C. They all learn and begin applying transformational leadership. They all learn to manage conflict. And they all gain a better understanding of the college’s other divisions and the challenges faced by colleagues.

The success of the program has encouraged Tri-C to add a fourth cohort for mid-level staff.

President Thornton said, “I know we have created an important framework that makes it possible not only to develop leaders, but also, leaders of leaders.”

“We never forget the business we’re in, and it’s all about students and student achievement, she said. “By developing human capital, the college is developing a ‘landscape for learning.’ ”

David W. Whitehead, former chairman of the Tri-C Board of Trustees, said Dr. Thornton “has truly built an exemplary system of leadership and professional development,” adding that Dr. Thornton is a “leader of leaders.”

Dr. Thornton and Dr. Patricia Rowell, president of Tri-C’s Western Campus, were also honored at the AACC convention’s Hail and Farewell Luncheon for their work with community colleges. Drs. Thornton and Rowell have announced plans to retire June 30, at the end of the academic year.

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