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WITC among Aspen Prize contestants


November 9, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College is among 150 schools nationwide competing for a $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The announcement came from Aspen on Tuesday. Only 15% of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply.

The award is considered a signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges. The criteria for the honor is based in part on strong and improving student outcomes in learning, completion rates, employment rates, earnings and equity.

“National recognitions are a positive reflection of the dedication and commitment of our employees to our students,” said WITC President John Will. “We’re proud to provide Northwest Wisconsin residents with high quality programming and that result is exceptional employment outcomes.”

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 represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector in 39 states, serving as few as 500 students and as many as 75,000 students.

Mott Community College is the only Michigan school among the 150 contestants. The other Wisconsin schools include Chippewa Valley Technical College, Fox Valley Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College.

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, 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 jury will make award decisions in spring 2021.

Previous winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence include four Florida colleges, Miami Dade College, Indian River State College, Santa Fe College and Valencia College; Lake Area Technical College in South Dakota, Santa Barbara City College in California, and Walla Walla Community College in Washington State.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program works to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses.


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