News: SBCC ties for first nationwide for 2013 Aspen Institute award

City College tied for first place with Walla Walla Community College as co-winners of the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

“[City College] and Walla Walla Community College offer outstanding models for achieving exceptional levels of student success at a time when our nation needs community colleges to do even more than they have in the past,” said Josh Wyner, the executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program.

The Aspen Prize recognizes City College in four distinct criteria: student learning outcomes, degree and college completion, labor market success in students securing jobs after college and minority and low-income student success. Each college will receive $400,000 to support its programs.

Wyner cited City College’s job preparation for students and transfer rate to four-year colleges. 64 percent of first-time full-time students transfer or graduate within three years at City College compared with the national average of 40 percent.

“At [City College], faculty and staff are providing students just what they need to transfer and complete a four-year degree – a rigorous classroom education surrounded by first-rate supports from remedial math to college level writing,” he said.

City College was represented at the award ceremony Tuesday morning, March 19 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. by Executive Vice President of educational programs Jack Friedlander, Superintendent-President Dr. Lori Gaskin, articulation officer Laura Castro, English professor Kathy Molloy and student representative Edith Rodriguez.

“It’s just such a wonderful affirmation of the excellent work that is being done by the college to support our students to help them achieve their educational goals,” said Friedlander.

Aspen Institute selected and interviewed a number of students before deciding on Rodriguez to represent the student body.

“I feel like I can do something back for my college because they’ve done so much for me,” said Rodriguez, 22. “To do something for them is an honor.”

Rodriguez introduced Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States and the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

“Community colleges are essential to the President’s goal of having the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world,” Biden said. “They represent a uniquely American idea – that if you work hard and get a good education, you can get the skills you need for a good job and build a better life for you and your family.”

City College and Walla Walla Community College of Walla Walla, Wash. were two of four colleges of the ten finalists nominated for the second consecutive year.

In September last year, four Aspen Institute representatives visited City College for two days as part of the final selection process for the award.

“It’s particularly impressive to see [City College] maintaining its innovative approaches at a time of continuing state education budget cuts,” Wyner said for the nomination.

Kingsborough Community College of Brooklyn and Lake Area Technical Institute of Watertown, S.D. received the award of finalists-with-distinction. Each will receive $100,000.

In December 2011, Valencia College of Orlando, Fla. won the Aspen Institute’s Inaugural Prize.

This story was originally published for the Santa Barbara City College newspaper The Channels on March 19, 2013 at http://www.thechannels.org/news/2013/03/19/sbcc-ties-for-first-for-aspen-institute-award/

For more stories I’ve written for The Channels, go to: http://www.thechannels.org/staff/2012/02/08/emerson-malone-arts-editor/

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