VC selected to compete for national award for community college excellence

VC President Tom Butler

Selection criteria put VC in the top 10 percent of all community colleges nationwide

Victoria College has been selected as a preliminary candidate to compete for the Aspen Prize for Community Colleges. The prize was announced in 2010 by President Obama at the White House Community College Summit. The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is a project of the Aspen Institute, in partnership with the Joyce Foundation, the Lumina Foundation for Education, Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, and was designed in cooperation with senior officials from the Obama Administration. 

Based on information that is publicly available, 120 candidates were chosen from among 1,200 colleges in 32 states. VC was one of nine community colleges in Texas selected to compete, including Blinn College, Southwest Texas Junior College and Wharton County Junior College.

“To be chosen to participate is indeed an honor, and a testament to the commitment and hard work of all VC employees,” said Tom Butler, president of VC. “This announcement came a quite a surprise, but an especially pleasant one.”

The prize was created as a reward for community colleges with outstanding results in the academic achievement of its students along with high graduate employment rates and improvements over time in both categories.

The prize will honor excellence by focusing on student success, with particular attention given to colleges that ensure the success of minority and first-generation students who most need higher education to get a foothold in the new economy. Data that is gathered from winning colleges will serve as a model for community colleges throughout the nation as two-year colleges are also the primary source of skills training for workers in many sectors of the economy. Additionally, competition for the prize is meant to encourage innovation and set examples for measuring progress.

“We know that community colleges serve a broad range of students who are seeking to advance their studies and their careers,” said Ross Wiener, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Program on Education and Society in a press release issued by the Aspen Institute, “but we also know that what community colleges do matters a lot in whether students succeed. The competition rules will seek to create a level playing field so that the community colleges that are making the biggest contributions can get the credit they deserve.”

The next phase of selection will require each competing college to provide more detailed information. This will include consideration of the unique characteristics of each college, its students and the community the college serves. From this second phase, eight finalists will be selected.

Finalists will be announced in fall 2011. The winner will be announced at the end of the year and $700,000 of the $1 million prize purse will be awarded as the top prize. Following the award, the competition will then enter a collaborative, knowledge-sharing phase. Profiles of winning colleges will be created and information collected throughout the selection process regarding strategies and practices will be shared as a reference for community colleges nationwide, as well as establishing measurement standards.

“The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is designed to change the way community colleges are understood, by raising up effective leaders and highlighting excellent performance,” said Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in a press release issued by the Aspen Institute. “If the nation is to meet President Obama’s challenge to increase the number of college graduates, we must recognize and support best practices.”


posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 by Katy Long

Published: Thursday, 28 April 2011

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