Mirron “Mike” Alexandroff

Columbia College Chicago

1961 - 1992

Mirron "Mike" Alexandroff was born on Chicago’s South Side in 1923 to educators Norman and Cherrie (Phillips) Alexandroff. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1947 from Roosevelt University and from Columbia College Chicago with a Masters of Arts degree in 1948.

From 1942 until 1945 he served as a sergeant in the US Army in the South Pacific, and upon discharge, married Anna Avgerin, and took a position as psychologist in Columbia College’s Psychological Guidance Center, an independent agency for the Veterans Administration, later becoming its manager. His family grew with the birth of two daughters, Niki and Pam.

When his father, Columbia College president Norman Alexandroff died in 1960, he became president of the College in 1961, taking over at a time when the College was struggling and enrollment was low. He utilized Chicago area media professionals as instructors, geared curriculum more firmly toward the arts and media, pushed for higher minority enrollments, and made upper education accessible to all with policies such as open enrollment. With this new vision, the College grew from less than 200 students to more than 7,000 and physically moved from a one-floor school to one of the largest South Loop landowners.

During his tenure, the College received accreditation from North Central Association Higher Learning Commission in 1974 and established a graduate division in 1981 which was accredited in 1984. He also purchased the first College building in 1975, later named the Alexandroff Campus Center in his honor.

He served as chair of the Chicago Metropolitan Higher Education Council, 1981- 1990; a member of the Advisory Committee of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, 1985–1992; and president of the Grant Park Cultural & Educational Community, 1985-1992. He was a recipient of the Sydney R. Yates Advocacy award, 1991; the Clarence Darrow award for leading service in cause of social justice, 1984; a Distinguished Urban Fellow award from the Association of Urban Universities, 1992; an Outstanding Contributor to Latin American TV award from the Mexico National Association of Broadcasters, 1980. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from DePaul University in 1992.

When Anna died in 1961, he married Jane Legnard in 1962, a College employee since the late 1950s. They had a son, Norman. Jane later established the Chicago Artists Abroad program at the College in 1987 that sent local artists to foreign countries but who lacked the funding to travel. This program ended with the retirement of the Alexandroffs in 1992. When Jane died in 1996, he wrote a book about the history of the College entitled, A Different Drummer.

He died April 20, 2001 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital after a brief illness. May 1, 2002 was declared ‘Mirron “Mike” Alexandroff Day’ by Proclamation from the Illinois Governor’s Office.