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ERIC Number: EJ972720
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jan-1
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1931-1362
Aspen Competition Drives Innovative Ideas for Community Colleges
Gonzalez, Jennifer
Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan 2012
When Valencia College became the first recipient of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence last month, an unsung sector earned uncommon recognition. Now that the speeches are over and the prize money has been awarded, the Aspen Institute is sharing early lessons from its yearlong effort to determine the top community college in the country. In a way, that is the real goal of the group's effort. Announced by President Obama last year during the White House Summit on Community Colleges, the competition was designed not only to spotlight the sector but also to galvanize and promote promising programs and policies to improve learning, completion rates, and employment outcomes. Valencia's victory was based in large part on its statistical measures of success: More than half of full-time students at the college, in Orlando, Fla., graduate or transfer within three years of enrolling, a rate significantly higher than the national average of 39 percent. The college also boasts a relatively high employment rate for its graduates. Valencia's president, Sanford C. Shugart, attributes the success to a cultural shift away from creating "volume," or just enrolling students, toward helping them transfer to a four-year college or graduate and enter the work force. While Valencia's practices, like student-success courses and career-program advising, clearly suit its students, the college's larger goals could be pursued by any peer institution. Valencia, which receives $600,000, shares the $1-million prize with four runners-up: (1) West Kentucky; (2) Walla Walla, in Washington state; (3) Lake Area Technical Institute, in South Dakota; and (4) Miami Dade College. Last month's prize is one of several efforts by the Aspen Institute, an educational- and policy-studies center, to ensure that community-college students graduate and enter the work force prepared.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; Tel: 202-466-1000; Fax: 202-452-1033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida