Last month the Aspen Institute awarded Valencia College in Orlando, Florida the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. As the winner, Valencia was recognized as the top community college in the nation and will receive $600,000 to support its programs. To determine a winner, the Aspen Institute reviewed data on community colleges and other elements of student success, including: student learning, degree completion and transfer, equity, and employment/earnings after college. At Valencia close to fifty percent of students are under-represented minorities, and many are low-income, yet more than half graduate or transfer within three years, versus less than forty percent for community colleges nationally.
The four finalists with distinction included Miami Dade College, West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Lake Area Technical Institute (South Dakota), and Walla Walla Community College (Washington). Each will receive $100,000.
Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager