Los Medanos College was named as one of 150 community colleges nationwide eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, a recognition awarded only to the most highly distinguished two-year colleges in the United States Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The Aspen Prize is awarded by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, and is awarded based on institutional performance in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion (including a bachelor’s degree after transfer), employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.
“Receiving this recognition from the Aspen Institute is incredibly rewarding for our entire college community,” said Bob Kratochvil, president of LMC. “LMC is keenly focused on increasing the learning, equitable outcomes, and success of our students – and, to that end, has embraced the notion of continuous improvement in everything we do. Being [named one of the] ‘Top 150 U.S. Community College’ is a tremendous acknowledgment of the outstanding efforts, innovation, and commitment of our faculty, classified professionals, and management team.”
Over the course of a two-year selection process, the College Excellence Program looks at various measurements of student outcomes among one-thousand community colleges across America selects 150 eligible colleges, of which LMC is one. Eligible colleges can then apply for the Prize, and may be selected as a top 10 finalist under further review by a selection committee of higher education experts.
The top 10 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.
“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.
LMC was also nominated as an Aspen Prize-eligible school during the past two award cycles of 2017 and 2019, but was not selected as a finalist in each cycle. The Prize is awarded every two years, and the award cycle lasts roughly one-and-a-half years from nomination to the award recipient announcement.
As an Aspen Prize-eligible school, LMC is also eligible to apply for the Excellence and Equity in Community College STEM Award, which offers $50,000 to eight exceptional STEM programs for program development and student scholarships. LMC is currently working to determine whether to apply for this award, and is “evaluating whether the college has available the required data and information that aligns with the STEM Award application,” said Jennifer Adams. This data would come from the District Office of Research and Planning.