The emphasis on community college excellence needs to move from a discussion just about student access to one of both access and success.
That’s the sentiment expressed Wednesday by many college leaders and politicians in the District of Columbia for the announcement of the Aspen Institute’s 2015 Prize for Community College Excellence, given to Santa Fe College, of Gainesville, Florida, which received $800,000 in prize funds. Kennedy-King College of Chicago won the institute’s “Rising Star” award, and $100,000 in prize funds, in part due to its work to triple the school’s graduation rate in five years. The prize, first awarded in 2011, is given every two years by the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization in the District of Columbia.
Two other community colleges – Lake Area Technical Institute of Watertown, South Dakota, and West Kentucky Community and Technical College, of Paducah, Kentucky – were named finalists with distinction and also were awarded $100,000 each in prize funds. A panel of experts judged more than 1,000 community colleges that applied on measures of learning, degree completion, minority and low-income student success and employment and earnings after graduation.