Aspen Prize nomination honors performance in key student outcomes

Whatcom Community College is one of nine community and technical colleges in Washington named among the nation’s top 150 community colleges by the prestigious Aspen Institute. The Aspen Institute selected the 150 colleges from a pool of more than 1,000 public two-year colleges across the nation.

The Aspen Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges and recognizes 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. This is the third consecutive nomination for Whatcom. The colleges are now eligible to compete for a $1 million prize as well as nominate for scholarships exceptional students enrolled in STEM programs that prepare them for high-demand jobs in manufacturing, energy, health care and information technology.

In addition to Whatcom, the nonprofit institute placed the following Washington state colleges in the running for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence: Clark College (Vancouver), Everett Community College, Highline College, Olympic College (Bremerton), Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, Renton Technical College, South Puget Sound Community College and Tacoma Community College.

The colleges have been invited to submit applications containing detailed data on how well their students learn, complete degrees, and get jobs with competitive wages after graduating.  Ten finalists will be named in fall 2016. The last round involves an on-site visit by Aspen Institute officials. Prize winners will be announced in early 2017.

About Whatcom: Whatcom Community College is an accredited, comprehensive two-year college with an accomplished faculty and staff who serve 11,000 students annually. On its campus in Bellingham, Wash., and through online courses, Whatcom offers transfer and professional-technical degrees as well as basic education, job skills, and community and continuing education classes. For more information, visit whatcom.edu.

About the Aspen Prize and the Aspen Institute: The Aspen Prize is funded by the Joyce Foundation, the Siemens Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation.  The Aspen College Excellence 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 www.aspeninstitute.org/college-excellence. 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 www.aspeninstitute.org.