Last Tuesday, the Aspen Institute named Northeast Alabama Community College among 150 institutions eligible for the Aspen Million Dollar Award for Excellence in Community Colleges, National Recognition of Community College Achievement and High Performance Americans. The Aspen Institute ranks the NACC among the top 150 community colleges in the United States, which represents fifteen percent of the more than 1,000 US community colleges. Colleges selected for this honor stand out among more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide as having high and improved levels of student achievement as well as fair outcomes for students from low-income backgrounds.
All 150 eligible colleges were invited to submit data and stories as the next steps in an intensive data and practice review process, culminating in the announcement of the award winner in spring 2023.
“We are very pleased with this honor,” said Dr David Campbell, ANCC President. “We are pursuing national rankings and recognition in Northeast. This is one of our goals, especially when it comes to student retention and completion. The fact that we have been regularly (6 times) shows the high quality of our faculty and staff, as well as the community college system.
The Aspen Award spotlights exemplary community colleges to elevate the industry, bring attention to colleges that do the best work, and discover and share highly effective student success and equity strategies. Since 2010, Aspen has chosen to focus intensely on community colleges because they are, as First Lady Dr Jill Biden said at the 2021 Aspen Prize ceremony, “a powerful engine of prosperity.”
But student outcomes vary widely from community college to community, and improving those outcomes is critical to securing our country’s economic future, strengthening communities, and ensuring diverse populations experience economic mobility and mobility. prosperity. With these goals in mind, the Aspen Prize recognizes colleges that have achieved outstanding achievement in five core areas: teaching and learning, certificate and diploma achievement, transfer and bachelor’s degree achievement, career success, and student equity. of color and students from low-income backgrounds.
“In a time of persistent inequity and labor shortage, our nation’s top community colleges are striving to graduate more and more diverse students so they are prepared for the right ones. jobs waiting to be filled, ”said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “Exceptional community college leaders understand that achieving excellence means expanding access to colleges and increasing graduation, but it doesn’t stop there. They are committed to ensuring that all students, including students of color and those from low-income backgrounds, graduate with the skills necessary to secure a job with a salary to support the family. or be transferred and graduated from a university. This same commitment that is at the center of the Aspen Prize: advancing the objectives of social mobility and the equitable development of talent.
Eligible colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector. Located in urban, rural and suburban areas of 34 states, these colleges serve as few as 230 students and as many as 57,000. The winning colleges have ranged from smaller institutions serving the rural community and small towns, including the Lake. Area Technical Institute (SD, 2017 award winner) and Walla Walla Community College (WA, 2013) – to large community colleges serving major metropolitan areas, including Miami Dade College. (FL, 2019) and San Antonio College (TX, 2021).
The other four previous recipients are Indian River State College (FL, 2019); Santa Fe College (FL, 2015); College of the City of Santa Barbara (CA, 2013); and Collège de Valence (FL, 2011).
In this first round, eligibility for the Aspen Prize is based on publicly available data. Eligible colleges must display strong and improved student outcomes in key areas such as retention, completion, transfer, and equity. Nationally, 15 percent of community colleges (150 of the roughly 1,000 two-year public colleges nationally assessed for the award) were invited to apply. The full list is available on the award home page.
The next steps in the process include:
• Selection of the top ten finalists by an expert panel of 15 experts in community colleges, higher education and workforce training, to be announced in Spring / Summer 2022
• Site visits in the fall of 2022 to each of the ten finalists, during which the Aspen Institute and its partners will gather additional information, including data on employment and income and information on promising practices
• A distinguished jury will meet and decide on awards in the first quarter of early 2023
• Announcement of the Aspen Prize in late spring 2023