West Kentucky Community and Technical College among finalists for Aspen Prize for Excellence

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The West Kentucky Community and Technical College was named Tuesday one of ten finalists for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

The $1 million prize fund will be awarded in March 2017 in Washington, D.C. to the winner and up to four finalists with distinction. (See complete list of finalists below.)

WKCTC has earned a place on the ten finalists’ list every year the Prize has been awarded (2011, 2013, and 2015) and was named a finalist with distinction in 2011 and 2015.

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The Prize, awarded every two years since 2011, recognizes outstanding institutions selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 public community colleges nationwide. With a singular focus on student success, 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.

“A Prize finalist every year since 2011, West Kentucky Community and Technical College continues to impress us with its deep commitment to the success of its students and to its community,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program in Washington, D.C. “From partnering with local organizations to reach out to minority students, to maintaining programs that allow students to earn college credit while completing high school, their ongoing dedication to improving lives beyond their own doors is remarkable.”

West Kentucky Community and Technical College stands out as one of the nation’s top community colleges for many reasons, including:

— Successfully closing college-level course completion gaps between minority and non-minority students enrolled in accelerated developmental courses
— Working with the community to secure funding to build the Emerging Technology Center to bring together state-of-the-art facilities, customized training for business and industry, and college courses to meet the technology needs of the regional labor market
— A degree in Health Science Technology (HST) that allows students to earn a marketable credential in as little as one semester
— Community colleges today enroll nearly half of all US undergraduates—7 million students—working toward degrees and certificates. This includes rapidly growing numbers of low-income and minority students. While fewer than 40 percent of all community college students graduate, Aspen Prize finalist institutions demonstrate that every community college can help more students achieve success while in college and after they graduate.

This fall, the Aspen Institute will conduct a rigorous review process that includes examination of extensive data on performance and improvements in learning, graduation, workforce, and equitable outcomes for all students as well as multi-day site visits to each of the ten finalist institutions. Then, a distinguished Prize Jury of higher education experts will select a grand prize winner and up to four finalists with distinction.

The 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. In 2013, Santa Barbara City College (California) and Walla Walla Community College (Washington) were co-winners. In 2011, Valencia College (Florida) was the inaugural Prize winner. According to the Prize rules, former winners were not eligible to reapply this cycle.

The Aspen Prize Finalists selected today reflect the diversity and richness of American community colleges.

The 2017 Aspen Prize Finalists (listed in alphabetical order):

Two colleges have been named finalists in four consecutive Prize cycles (indicated with *) and two others were finalists for a second time (indicated with #)

— Anoka-Ramsey Community College – Coon Rapids, MN
— Broward College – Fort Lauderdale, FL#
— Chaffey College – Rancho Cucamonga, CA
— Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, FL#
— Lake Area Technical Institute –Watertown, SD*

— Northeast Community College – Norfolk, NE
— Odessa College – Odessa, TX
— Pasadena City College – Pasadena, CA
— San Jacinto College – Pasadena, TX
— West Kentucky Community and Technical College – Paducah, KY*

The Aspen Prize is funded by the Joyce Foundation, the Siemens Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation.

The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the New College Leadership Project, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit http://highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize/.

From Aspen Institute Communications

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