July 28, 2014

Elyria
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Founding president of LCCC dies

COLUMBUS — The first president and a founder of Lorain County Community College has died.

Lerner

Max. J. Lerner, 92, passed away Jan. 2 in the Columbus area.

He had lived in Upper Arlington for many years, according to Tim Boylan, a longtime friend and associate at the school Lerner helped to establish in 1963.

“He was a warm individual,” Boykin said, recalling how he had just seen and lunched with Lerner about a month ago at a workshop in the Columbus area. “He was still very active. I had a personal relationship with him, as well as a professional one. We will miss him.”

Boylan, 74, who lives in Elyria, worked at LCCC for 24 years where he served as director of admissions and registrar after starting work there in 1966, three years after the college was founded.

After their days together at the college, the two men continued their long-term friendship and then renewed professional ties as Boylan accepted a part-time position with the State Board for Career Colleges and Schools, of which Lerner served as executive director until age 88.

A big proponent of community colleges at a time when few existed, Lerner helped push to get legislation approved to establish the schools, of which LCCC was among the very first.

The college began with about 1,000 students at its current site after starting life as Lorain Technical College in rented space in downtown Lorain and other locations.

Lerner served as the college’s inaugural president from 1963 to 1971.

“This college and community were fortunate to have had the vision, leadership and commitment of Dr. Max Lerner during the launch of Lorain County Community College,” said Roy Church, president of Lorain County Community College. “Dr. Lerner set a direction for the institution that was rooted in serving the needs of this community. As the college celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the leadership of Dr. Lerner is forever present and carried forward by our current Board of Trustees, administration, faculty and staff.”

Born in Cambridge in 1920 into a large family that included three sisters and two brothers, Lerner married his wife, Jean, on Dec. 7, 1945.

The couple came to Lorain in the 1950s to help form Lorain Technical College. After he left LCCC, Lerner went on to serve as vice chancellor for the Ohio Board of Regents, where he oversaw two-year colleges, according to Boylan.

Boylan remembered first meeting Lerner about a month after being hired.

“I had good relations with him,” Boylan said. “He was a good administrator and a big asset for Lorain County.”

“The Max and Jean Lerner Scholarship Fund” at LCCC was established after his time at the college by Lerner and his wife.

The family requested that donations be made to the fund in lieu of flowers.

Friends are invited to visit with family 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Schoedinger Northwest Chapel, 1740 Zollinger Road, Columbus, where Lerner’s life will be celebrated at 3 p.m.

Lerner’s daughter, the Rev. Lorie Lerner, will officiate.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.