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West Kentucky Community and Technical College one of 10 finalists for prestigious Aspen Prize


The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has announced that West Kentucky Community and Technical College is one of 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges.

This is West Kentucky Community and Technical College’s fifth time as an Aspen Prize finalist. In 2011 and 2015, WKCTC was honored as a Finalist with Distinction.

The 10 Aspen Prize finalists were selected from the nation’s 1,000 community colleges in a process that included qualitative and quantitative data analysis and engaged more than 30 experts in the field. These finalists all effectively identify, develop, and scale strategies to propel all students to not just complete college but also succeed after graduation.

“West Kentucky Community and Technical College has a strong track record of ensuring students learn in the classroom and earn degrees needed to improve their lives,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “The college has long been an exemplar in understanding regional needs and preparing its graduates to enter the workforce.

“It also takes care to ensure that all students are well-supported as they begin their college journey and that students who aim to earn a bachelor’s after transferring to a four-year institution are well-prepared.”

Awarded every two years since 2011, the Aspen Prize recognizes institutions that achieve strong student outcomes across four key areas:

• Teaching and learning
• Degree completion and successful transfer to four-year institutions
• Success in the workforce
• Equitable outcomes for diverse student groups

“The Aspen Prize finalists define what it means to be an excellent community college,” said Wyner. “By organizing everything they do around student success, these colleges stand at the forefront of national efforts to develop the talents of diverse students that we need to strengthen our nation’s economic future.”

WKCTC has earned a place on Aspen’s Top 10 finalists’ list in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. The college did not participate in 2019.

Dr. Anton Reece

“I would like to intentionally pause and clearly state how humbled and elated I am for West Kentucky Community and Technical College to be named for a record fifth time among the ten ranked community and technical colleges in the nation,” said WKCTC President Anton Reece. “The Aspen Institute national rankings are heavily vetted and incredibly competitive across 1,000 sister community and technical colleges and it is a powerful testament to the exemplary efforts.

“I commend our faculty and staff for embracing and maximizing our culture of excellence and intentionally focusing on high expectations of learning and student success outcomes.”

In November, The Aspen Institute announced that WKCTC, Big Sandy Community and Technical College and Southcentral Community and Technical College were among more than 150 community colleges in the nation eligible to compete for the $1 million 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

“I’m so proud of WKCTC for being named a top 10 finalist for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence for the fifth time,” Jay K. Box, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, said. “This is a tremendous honor and a testament to the commitment to student success from everyone at the college. Our entire system is proud of this accomplishment.”

What community colleges do has a significant impact on our nation’s ability to develop diverse talent and promote social mobility, given that they enroll 6 million students-about 40 percent of all U.S. undergraduates-and disproportionately serve low-income and minority students.

For the rest of 2020, the Aspen Institute will work with a team of national experts to complete a rigorous review process to determine the eventual winner of the prize. This encompasses a comprehensive examination of outcomes data as well as multi-day virtual site visits to each of the 10 finalist institutions.

In early 2021, a distinguished jury will convene to select the prize winner, finalists with distinction, and a rising star and allocate a $1 million award among them. The winner will be announced at a May 2021 event in Washington, D.C.

The Aspen Prize is funded by Ascendium Education Group, Joyce Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.

2021 Aspen Prize finalists

• Amarillo College, Amarillo, Texas
• Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York
• Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
• Odessa College, Odessa, Texas
• Pasadena City College, Pasadena, Calif.
• Pierce College, Pierce County, Wash.
• San Antonio College, San Antonio, Texas
• San Jacinto College, Pasadena, Texas
• Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee, Fla.
• West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, Ky.

From West Kentucky Community and Technical College

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