LMC makes top 150

There are more than 1,100 community colleges nationwide vying for students but Los Medanos College may have given itself an edge above the competition — it has been named an “Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. Community College.”

The announcement came to the college via email Tuesday, Jan. 24 from LMC President Bob Kratochvil, who congratulated the LMC community for being recognized for the “outstanding work” they do.

Contra Costa Community College District Chancellor Helen Benjamin echoed Kratochvil’s sentiments in response to his email and said, “This is certainly an honor!”

The $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is given out biennially and, according to Kratochvil, is “the foremost recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.”

But we must get through an application process in round two, which narrows the contender pool to 10 finalists, and then an onsite visit by the Finalists Selection Committee in the third round that will send its findings to the Prize Jury for consideration.

This is only round one, but as Kratochvil said in his announcement to the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board at its monthly Wednesday meeting Jan. 27, it is an impressive feat because it is a competition the college never intended to enter.

The Aspen Institute, which is a nonpartisan organization located in Washington D.C. that studies education and public policy, uses their own compiled data to make their selections for the top 150 colleges. According to its website, the institute judges colleges nationwide based on 4 areas of student outcomes — “student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.”

Although Kratochvil said he is proud of what LMC has accomplished, he couldn’t take the credit for this achievement.

“It’s really an indication of our faculty and staff, and the work they do,” he said.

LMC is the only college in the district to have been selected but it wasn’t the only one in the state.

Of the 2017 top-150 list, California took up more spots than any of the other 35 states that had colleges chosen — the list actually has 152 two-year institutions because the nine finalists from 2015 that did not win were automatically eligible for this prize cycle. The Golden State is also home to the 2013 co-winner Santa Barbara City College, which is no longer eligible to compete, along with the 4 other colleges who have also already won – Valencia College in 2011, co-winner Walla Walla Community College in 2013 and Santa Fe College in 2015.

Kratochvil said in his email LMC is also eligible for the Siemens Technical Scholars Program, which is put on through a partnership between The Aspen Institute and the Siemens Foundation. According to the institute’s website the new program was set up to recognize colleges that offer first-rate programs helping train students for middle-skill STEM jobs.

Both applications are due March 4, and Kratochvil said he will be providing more information about “this exciting competition” in the coming weeks as the deadline approaches.