By Kevin Kelley
J. Michael Thomson, who served as president of Cuyahgoa Community College’s Westshore Campus in Westlake since before it opened its classrooms in January 2011, has been reassigned to the college’s East Campus in Highland Hills.
Terri Pope, a biology professor at the Westshore Campus, has been named its interim president.
The new appointments were formally announced by Alex Johnson, president of all of Tri-C, at a reception Oct. 23 at the Westshore Campus that marked the 50th anniversary of the community college’s establishment.
Pope earned a doctorate in philosophy with an emphasis in physiological chemistry from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition from Case Western Reserve University. She attended Cuyahoga Community College for the first two years of her undergraduate studies. First hired by Tri-C as an adjunct biology instructor in 1988, Pope became a full-time instructor in 1991 and a tenured faculty member in 1997.
“She’s noted for her contributions to curricular development, but she also has gained a reputation as a leader among the faculty,” Johnson said of Pope, who was a Westlake resident for 26 years before recently relocating to Avon Lake.
Pope told West Life that her first task as campus president will be to continue doing everything to encourage students’ success.
“I never would have left teaching if it was not for Dr. Johnson’s vision for student success,” Pope said, explaining that a student’s successful completion of a sought-after degree is the first measure of student success.
The next task will be work on the second of what was originally three planned classroom buildings at the Westshore Campus. The completion date of new construction, Pope said, will depend on support from the community, including the fate of a levy planned for next fall.
“We are a campus that is dedicated to expansion,” Pope said in remarks at the Oct. 23 event. “Not just expansion of our students’ minds and their success, but also expansion into our community. We really are a community college.”
Thomas, who took leadership of the East Campus on Oct. 14, told West Life he was impressed at how well the community has embraced the Western Campus.
Growth in enrollment at the campus has exceeded the highest expectations of administrators every term, Thomson said. When the new Clemens Road campus buildings opened nearly three years ago, enrollment was around 1,600, including students attending classes at the Corporate College West building on Center Ridge Road. Today the number of students is at 2,800, he said.
Even with the growth, Thomson said the relatively small size of the campus is an asset, allowing a caring environment to take root.
“Traditional boundaries that exist in other places don’t exist here,” Thomson said.
Thomson credits the campus team with creating a nimble culture that finds creative ways to solve problems.
Johnson, who was sworn in as Tri-C’s new president in June at the Westshore Campus, said his goal is to ensure the college continues to offer workplace development and certificate programs that lead to viable jobs, as well as keep tuition affordable.
“We’re about ‘Where Futures Begin,’” Johnson said, referring to Tri-C’s slogan. “But we’re also a college of first choice for so many individuals who see us as the first step in their college experience. They get a quality education at an affordable price.”