Community College of Allegheny County leaders say they are laying the groundwork for a search to find a successor to president Alex Johnson, who is leaving to assume the presidency of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cleveland.
In starting his new duties July 1, Mr. Johnson will return to a city where he has family and to a college where he previously led one of its campuses.
County and CCAC officials praised his tenure here of just over five years. Mr. Johnson arrived in March 2008 from Delgado Community College in New Orleans, where he was chancellor.
"It has been my honor to serve as CCAC's president these past five years," Mr. Johnson said in a statement. "We have accomplished a great deal, and I remain excited about the possibilities awaiting CCAC.
"However, with my children and grandchildren all living in Cleveland, I felt that I could not let the opportunity pass to talk with Tri-C officials about the position and, ultimately, to accept the role."
"It will be a loss for the community. Dr. Johnson has really done a terrific job over the term of his presidency," county Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.
He said he understood Mr. Johnson's desire to be with family, adding, "You never can compete with children and grandchildren."
Amy Kuntz, chairwoman of CCAC's board of trustees, said Mr. Johnson advanced the college on multiple fronts.
She cited, in particular, such accomplishments as completion of the long-sought K. Leroy Irvis Science Center on the Allegheny campus and a fundraising campaign that surpassed its initial $30 million goal, secondary target and, to date, has raised $41 million.
Ms. Kuntz also pointed to creation of Math Cafes and Learning Commons, which she described as drop-in tutoring locations where faculty and others can offer assistance right away that increases the chances a student will complete courses successfully.
"He is well respected not only by the people he oversees but by the corporate community, the foundation community," she said. "We think it's a great loss for the college and the Pittsburgh community."
John Dziak, CCAC faculty union president, said he hopes the leadership change will not slow momentum gained under Mr. Johnson, whose presidency Mr. Dziak described as successful.
"He was good in his personal skills in terms of building trust," Mr. Dziak said. "We worked well together."
Ms. Kuntz said a search timetable has not yet been established but that trustees will likely discuss the process at their June meeting. A committee will be formed that will have broad representation from the community, she said, and may receive consulting assistance from a representative of the Association of Community College Trustees, which provided assistance in the search that brought Mr. Johnson to CCAC, Ms. Kuntz said.
She and Mr. Fitzgerald spoke of the need for a leader who will continue promoting student success initiatives and continue to work closely with the business community on workforce development.
Bill Schackner: email@example.com, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG. First Published May 16, 2013 4:00 AM