PASADENA, Texas — Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in America’s community colleges, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has named San Jacinto College as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges. The College is now 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.
“It is such an honor to receive this recognition for a third time,” said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor. “Our faculty and staff are doing tremendous work every day to ensure our students complete what they started at San Jacinto College. It is important work that guarantees our students are receiving the assistance they need from student services, and are getting the high quality instruction they expect from our faculty. This recognition is truly a College wide effort, and one that we will continue to pursue to make certain our students graduate with their certificate or associate degree.”
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.”
Since 2007, San Jacinto College has experienced a 129 percent increase in the number of credentials awarded to graduates; from 2,682 in 2007, to 6,144 in 2015.
The Aspen Institute identified the top 150 community colleges through an assessment of institutional performance, improvement, and equity on student retention and completion measures. Together, the 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the Prize represent the diversity and richness of the entire sector. 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.
San Jacinto College and 149 other community colleges were selected from a national pool of more than 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), and Equity (evidence of strong completion outcomes for minority and low-income students).
A full list of the selected colleges and details on the selection process are available at aspenprize.org. The Aspen Prize is funded by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Lumina Foundation.
About The Aspen College Excellence Program
The program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve 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 aspeninstitute.org/college-excellence.
About The Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit aspeninstitute.org.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.