The CLEVELAND COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION, organized in 1952 and reorganized in 1954 and 1956, was the driving force behind the creation of CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE (CCC) and has coordinated HIGHER EDUCATION communitywide. Backed by a $75,000 CLEVELAND FOUNDATION grant, the 7 community leaders comprising the original committee surveyed higher education in Cleveland, using Cuyahoga County accredited liberal-arts colleges and universities as a base. The group was then restructured as the Joint Committee for Cleveland Higher Education (1954-56) and subsequently reorganized as the Cleveland Commission on Higher Education.

The voluntary group organized to explore potential cooperation among local post-secondary institutions and to try to solve common problems, such as the need for 2-year technical, vocational colleges; inclusion of minority and low income people; coordination of fundraising attempts; and adequate training of teachers. Supported by members, corporate contributions and foundation grants, it functioned as a catalyst, encouraging long-range planning and promoting higher education. The commission has continuously been composed of the presidents of member institutions and a corresponding number, plus 1, of public members, appointed for 3-year terms. Initial institutional members included Case Institute of Technology, Western Reserve Univ. (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIV.), FENN COLLEGE (later CLEVELAND STATE UNIV.), BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE, and JOHN CARROLL UNIV., CCC, NOTRE DAME COLLEGE, URSULINE COLLEGE, DYKE COLLEGE, and the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART joined later. Public members have traditionally been corporate leaders with a strong civic commitment. A salaried executive director, associate director, and executive secretary administer the commission.

Changes in the commission's purpose have reflected the evolving EDUCATION needs. With the direction of CLEVELAND ELECTRIC ILLUMINATING CO. chair Ralph Besse (1956-69), the commission helped members prepare for anticipated massive enrollments and took the leadership in establishing CCC. It was also a catalyst in converting Fenn College to Cleveland State Univ. Under attorney and former school board member Hugh Calkins (1971-76), the commission offered programs to help inner-city teachers prepare minority students for college and explored nontraditional approaches to education. The commission, with membership expansion in 1991, has become a regional organization. It has begun to position itself as the instrument through which higher education connects with the business, corporate, and civic community to foster an increase in the educational attainment level of the citizenry and link higher education programs and research to the economic development of the region, while maintaining its historical role in service to public K-12 education and its members. In 1995 the commission's office was in the Hanna Building at 1422 Euclid Ave. and Wm. P. Madar was the chairman.


Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

Finding aid for the Cleveland Commission on Higher Education Records, Series I, WRHS.

Finding aid for the Cleveland Commission on Higher Education Records, Series II, WRHS.

Cohen, Paula. Shaping a System of Higher Education: A History of the Cleveland Commission on Higher Education (1988).

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