January 26, 2016
Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in America’s community colleges, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today named Mt. San Jacinto College as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million dollars in prize funds, as well as Siemens Technical Scholars Program student scholarships. This is the second time MSJC received this recognition.
“I am thrilled and proud that Mt. San Jacinto College has been recognized for its excellence by the Aspen Institute for a second time,” said Dr. Roger Schultz, superintendent/president of MSJC. “It is an honor to be considered one of the top 150 colleges across the nation. This type of achievement can only be reached with a crew of outstanding faculty and staff like we have at MSJC. When the Aspen Institute recognized MSJC in 2014, it was evidence of our commitment to providing excellence in the classroom and supporting student success. Reaching this recognition again shows MSJC’s ongoing dedication to excellence and support for our students.”
The 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.
Nearly half of America’s college students attend community college, with more than seven million students – youth and adult learners – working toward certificates and degrees in these institutions across the country.
“Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation’s economic strength and the potential for social mobility in our country,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “This competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs after college. We hope it will raise the bar and provide a roadmap to better student outcomes for community colleges nationwide.”
This year, California saw the largest increase among states in the number of colleges eligible for the Prize—tripling from seven to 21 since the last Prize cycle in 2015. Most states saw only small changes in the number of eligible institutions.
A full list of the selected colleges and details on the selection process are available at www.aspenprize.org.
For the first time, the 150 Prize-eligible institutions are also invited to nominate exceptional students enrolled in their best middle-skill STEM programs for scholarships. Up to 50 Siemens Technical Scholars will be selected from programs that provide outstanding preparation for high-demand jobs in manufacturing, energy, health care, and information technology. A partnership between the Siemens Foundation and the Aspen Institute, the Siemens Technical Scholars Program intends to help our nation’s community colleges and their business partners bridge the gap between projected shortages of skilled workers and the millions of high-demand jobs in these STEM industries. Scholarship winners and the programs that deliver rigorous training enabling their success will be announced in fall 2016. For more information and to view video profiles of 2015 Siemens Technical Scholars, go to: as.pn/stscholars.
Mt. San Jacinto College and 149 other community colleges announced today were selected from a national pool of over 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes in three areas:
Performance (retention, graduation rates including transfers, and degrees and certificates per 100 full-time equivalent students)
Improvement (awarded for steady improvement in each performance metric over time)
Equity (evidence of strong completion outcomes for minority and low-income students)
Mt. San Jacinto College has been invited to submit an application to the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence containing detailed data on degree and certificate completion (including progress and transfer rates), labor market outcomes (employment and earnings), and student learning outcomes.
Ten finalists will be named in fall 2016. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2017.