“In today's society, it's what you know that makes a difference and many of our students would not be able to pursue post- secondary education without the generosity of our community.” Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton
On Jan. 2, 1992, Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton was selected as the third president of Cuyahoga Community College, joining Tri-C after serving six years as president of Lakewood Community College (now Century College) in White Bear Lake, Minn.
Dr. Thornton immediately pursued strategies that would strengthen the institution financially, broaden the school’s spectrum of educational opportunities and solidify Tri-C’s position as a thought leader in the community.
By acknowledging the need for strong, lasting community partnerships and proclaiming that Tri-C would become a beacon of opportunity, welcoming all who thirst for knowledge, she instilled confidence in the civic and business leaders of Cleveland.
Dr. Thornton’s dedication to fundraising and providing opportunities for all types of students demonstrated her desire to focus the resources of the College on the students. Having once been a struggling student herself, she could relate to everyone from the ambitious student at the Metropolitan Campus to the white collar professional coming back to school to enhance their skills and expand their knowledge.
During her tenure she met thousands of students who warmly embraced her and told her how Tri-C had made a difference in their lives. The students related that they could not only see their dreams, they could realize them. Dr. Thornton relentlessly pursued initiatives that expanded the scope of the College and ensured its long-term viability.
Publicly and privately she would mention to anyone who would lend an ear that the ultimate goal of the College was to make sure everyone could catch their dreams. Dr. Thornton used the term “Dream Catcher” numerous times to describe Cuyahoga Community College. The term also aptly described her.