Coos Bay, OR – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named Southwestern Oregon Community 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.
Southwestern is the only school in Oregon invited to apply, and joins the ranks of just 15 percent percent of community colleges nationwide eligible to receive the Aspen Prize. Selection is based on strong and improving student outcomes — including in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity. 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.
“We are surprised and excited at Southwestern with the announcement that our college is being considered for this honor,” said President Dr. Patty Scott. “Southwestern started down this path 15 years ago. Achieving excellence is about more than numbers to us. We created systems and connections to support our students in being successful. I’m so pleased to see our faculty and staff being recognized for their dedication. It’s possible because every person who works on our campuses – at every level and in every job – is committed to removing barriers to give all students the support they need to succeed. Today, our students lead the state in completing degrees and high-skill job training, and transferring to universities,” Dr. Scott said.
The 150 community colleges named as eligible to compete for the 2021 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. The top ten finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020.
“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.
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.