TIAA Institute Honors Cuyahoga Community College President with 2022 Hesburgh Award

SAN DIEGO (March 7, 2022) – In partnership with the American Council on Education (ACE), the TIAA Institute is pleased to announce 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 recognizes a college or university president or chancellor whose outstanding leadership has made a major contribution to higher education and society.

“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.”

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.”

The award was presented today at ACE2022, ACE’s Annual Meeting, held this year in San Diego and attended by leaders in the higher education industry, including deans, presidents and chancellors from colleges and universities 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 American Council on Education President 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.”

The Hesburgh Award is named in honor of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., (1917-2015), past president of the University of Notre Dame and longtime member of the TIAA and CREF Boards of Overseers. A world-renowned educator and humanitarian, Father Hesburgh was a lifelong champion of human rights, the cause of peace and care of the poor. Previous winners include Prairie View A&M University President Ruth J. Simmons, Georgia State University President Mark Becker, Southern New Hampshire University President Paul J. LeBlanc, LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow, and Medal of Freedom winner Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College.

For more information about the Hesburgh award or this year’s winner, please click here.

Press contact: TIAA Media Team, 888-200-4062,

About the TIAA Institute
The TIAA Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders, and enables those it serves to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success. For more information about the TIAA Institute, visit

About the American Council on Education
ACE is a membership organization that mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice. As the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities, our strength lies in our diverse membership of more than 1,700 colleges and universities, related associations, and other organizations in America and abroad. ACE is the only major higher education association to represent all types of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions: two-year and four-year, public and private. For more information, please visit or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

About Cuyahoga Community College
Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) opened in 1963 as Ohio's first community college. It is Ohio's largest public community college and offers the lowest tuition in the state. Over the past half-century, Tri-C has provided high-quality, affordable education and programs to more than 1 million community members, fueling economic growth and meeting workforce needs throughout Northeast Ohio. The College is among the top institutions in the nation in conferring associate degrees. Visit to see why Tri-C is where futures begin.

About TIAA
TIAA is a leading provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions to millions of people and thousands of institutions. It is the #1 not-for-profit retirement market provider, paid more than $3.6 billion to retired clients in 2020 and has $1.4 trillion in assets under management (as of 12/31/2021).