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2016 September 13 - 07:26 am

Aspen Prize Names Ten Finalists

Colleges Will Compete for Prestigious Award and $1M Prize Fund

 Ten finalists have been named to compete for the 2017 Community College Prize for College Excellence, the nation’s premiere recognition of achievement and improvement among America’s community colleges.

The colleges — including two each from Texas, California and Florida — now will be subjected to a review of data on performance and improvements in learning, graduation rates, workforce development and equity. The review process will include site visits to each of the finalist institutions.

A jury of higher education experts will select a grand prize winner and up to four finalists with distinction. The $1 million prize fund will be awarded in March 2017 in Washington, D.C.

The prize has been awarded every two years since 2011. It recognizes outstanding institutions selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 public community colleges nationwide. The prize assesses community colleges’ achievements in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings for graduates, and access and success for minority and low-income students.

“The success of our nation’s community colleges is integrally tied to the success of millions of students, thousands of communities, and the economy of our entire country,” said Joshua Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “Simply put, what community colleges do matters. By delivering quality education and affording opportunities for good jobs, this diverse set of ten community colleges is setting a standard for what all community colleges can achieve.”

Previous winners were Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida, in 2015; co-winners Santa Barbara City College (California) and Walla Walla Community College (Washington) in 2013; and Valencia College (Florida) in 2011. According to the prize rules, former winners were not eligible to reapply this cycle. 

This year’s finalists reflect the rich diversity American community colleges — from Broward College in Florida, with a majority Latino student body of 62,000, to tiny Lake Area Technical College in South Dakota with 1,900 students.

This year, two colleges were named finalists for the fourth straight competition: West Kentucky Community and Technical College and Lake Area Technical Institute.

Two other colleges are finalists for the second straight time: Broward College (Florida) and Indian River State College (Florida).

The remaining finalists are: Anoka-Ramsey Community College (Minnesota); Chaffey College (California); Northeast Community College (Nebraska); Odessa College (Texas); Pasadena City College (California); and San Jacinto College (Texas).

Also from Paul Bradley, CCWeek Editor

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