JCC Named a Top Community College & Invited to Compete for $1 Million Prize

In an announcement on April 22, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named Jefferson Community College as one the nation’s 120 top community colleges, challenging it to compete for the $1 million fund for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Using publicly available data, the Aspen Institute identified the 120 community colleges -- 10 percent of all institutions -- using a quantitative formula that assesses performance and improvement in four areas: graduation rates, degrees awarded, student retention rates, and equity in student outcomes.  Jefferson will now compete for the prestigious honor following a year-long research process into how well its students learn, complete degrees, and get jobs with competitive wages after graduating.  Other New York community colleges joining Jefferson in the Top 120 are Broome Community College, CUNY Kingsborough Community College, Finger Lakes Community College, Genesee Community College and Hudson Valley Community College. A full list of the 120 community colleges is available at www.AspenCCPrize.org.

The first inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to the 70,000-student Valencia College (Orlando, Florida) in December 2011. According to the Aspen Institute, it was the first broad national recognition of extraordinary accomplishments at individual community colleges.

Some seven million students – youth and adult learners – enroll in America’s nearly 1,200 public and private community colleges every year.

“The success of our nation’s community colleges is more important than ever before,” said Aspen Institute College Excellence Program Executive Director Josh Wyner, who announced the names of the 120 top community colleges at the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges in Orlando, Florida. “At a time when a college degree is essential to entering the middle class, community colleges like Jefferson Community College offer the most promising path to education and employment for literally millions of Americans.  This competition spotlights excellence and we encourage Jefferson Community College to apply for the nation’s top community college prize to help raise the bar for all community colleges to improve student achievement and better prepare the next generation for the job market after college.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to compete for the Aspen Institute Prize,” said Dr. Carole A. McCoy, president of Jefferson Community College. “Being selected as one of the top 10% of all community colleges is wonderful validation of the outstanding work done by our faculty and staff to help our students succeed.”

Jefferson must next submit an application containing detailed data that demonstrates that the College delivers exceptional student results, uses data to drive decisions, and continually improves over time. Using the application as an evaluation tool, a panel of experts will then select eight to ten finalists in September. The Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to each of the finalists in the fall. A distinguished Prize Jury co-chaired by John Engler, president of Business Roundtable, former Michigan Governor, and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers and Richard Riley, former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Secretary of Education, will select a grand prize winner and four runners-up, to be announced in March 2013.

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to identify and replicate campus-wide practices that significantly improve college student outcomes.  Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the New College Leadership Project and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/aspen-prize.