The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today named the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) as one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. UACCB was also named to the Aspen Institute’s top 150 community college list in 2017.
Based on strong and improving student outcomes — including learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity — 15 percent of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply for the Aspen Prize, the institute noted in a press release.
The 150 community colleges were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes. The colleges selected are eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize. Located in 39 states in urban, rural, and suburban areas, serving as few as 500 students and as many as 75,000 students, these colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector.
“We are honored to be nominated for the second time by the Aspen Institute. I am very proud for UACCB to be recognized among the top 15 percent of community colleges nationwide,” said Deborah Frazier, chancellor of UACCB. “Receiving this honor validates the hard work and dedication that the faculty and staff have invested in student achievement. UACCB has consistently moved the needle forward by challenging ‘the norm.’ Through the implementation of innovative ideas, UACCB continues to improve and increase the value of the community college experience for students.”
Data show that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates, and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible colleges.
“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. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, and that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students—through graduation and beyond.”
The top ten 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.
For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize.