For the second time in a row, South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) has been named as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. The nomination makes SPSCC eligible to compete for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million dollars in prize funds.
Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in America’s community colleges, the College Excellence Program selects its top 150 every two years from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes. SPSCC was also recognized as a top 150 community college in the Program’s 2017 nominations.
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized again by Aspen,” said Dr. Timothy Stokes, president of SPSCC. “Our staff and faculty have been doing incredible work to build systems that support both student access and success while tackling systemic barriers every day so that our students can get in, stay in, and complete their education. This is truly a testament to the value of that work.”
Higher education attainment has never been more important. Estimates from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce suggest that out of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5 million require at least some college education. The vast majority of students who enroll in community colleges do so because they believe that postsecondary education will provide them a path to rewarding work, stable employment, and family-sustaining wages.
“Especially in the current social and economic climate, it is exceptionally important that our nation’s community colleges develop the diverse talent needed to fuel democratic engagement, social mobility, and economic opportunity and growth,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “Through this competition we’re working to inspire other institutions across our country to ensure more students succeed in college and their lives beyond those campuses.”
Currently, SPSCC serves more than 7,000 students per quarter between its Olympia and Lacey campuses.
The Aspen Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and access and success for minority and low-income students.
The top ten finalists for the 2019 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2018. 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 Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner, finalist(s) with distinction, and rising star(s) in spring 2019.
A full list of the selected colleges and details on the selection process are available at www.aspenprize.org
The 2019 Aspen Prize is funded by the Joyce Foundation and the Siemens Foundation.
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Siemens Technical Scholars Program, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit http://highered.aspeninstitute.org/.
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.
*This release was written by The Aspen Institute with contributions from SPSCC staff.