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  PRESS RELEASE

NOVEMBER 2019

Aspen Institute Names St. Johns River State College as a Top 150 U.S. Community College Eligible for 2021 Aspen Prize

Aspen Top 150 logo
Aspen Top 150 logo

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 5, 2019 — The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today named St. Johns River State College as one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges. Based on strong and improving in student outcomes—including in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity—15 percent of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply for the Aspen Prize.

SJR State President Joe Pickens, J.D., said the College is honored to be recognized for its consistent commitment to student success. "Our dedicated staff strives daily to provide students with the essential pathways to success," he said.

Of the 150 colleges named, Pickens said that SJR State is among the smaller colleges, emphasizing that when it comes to performance, “A college doesn’t necessarily have to be bigger to be better. We have proven that our size does not limit us in our mission to achieve academic excellence and make a difference in the communities we serve,” he said.

SJR State Board Chairman Sam Garrison congratulated the College on its fourth time as an Aspen Award contender since the award’s debut in 2010. "It is always gratifying to be recognized for the hard work of our dedicated employees and students. St. Johns River State College takes great pride in what we do and will continue pushing ourselves to provide outstanding opportunities for our students, their families and our community as a whole.”

The 150 community colleges named today as eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes. Located in 39 states in urban, rural, and suburban areas, serving as few as 500 students and as many as 75,000 students, these colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector.

Data show that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates, and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible colleges.

“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students—through graduation and beyond.”

The top ten finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished jury will make award decisions in spring 2021.

Previous winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence are: Miami Dade College (FL) and Indian River State College (FL), 2019; Lake Area Technical College (SD), 2017; Santa Fe College (FL), 2015; Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA), 2013; Valencia College (FL), 2011.

For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit www.highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize.

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

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit "http://highered.aspeninstitute.org/ and www.linkedin.com/showcase/aspenhighered and follow @AspenHigherEd on Twitter.

The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

 

 

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