Madisonville Community College named as one of the Top 120 in Country by The Aspen Institute

MADISONVILLE COMMUNITY COLLEGE Eligible for $1 Million Aspen Institute Prize Fund;
Nation’s Signature Recognition of Excellence in More Than 1,000 Community Colleges, Which Serve Nearly Half of All Undergraduates in U.S.

Washington, DC –Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in America’s community colleges, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named Madisonville 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. Madisonville Community College was also named in the 2012 competition. 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. These colleges will now compete for the prestigious honor following a year-long research process into how well their students learn, complete degrees, and get jobs with competitive wages after graduating. A full list of the 120 community colleges is available at www.AspenCCPrize.org. Prize winners will be announced in March 2013.

The first inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to the 70,000-student Valencia College (Orlando, Florida) in December 2011. 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 today 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 Madisonville Community College offer the most promising path to education and employment for literally millions of Americans. This competition spotlights excellence and we encourage Madisonville 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.”

Madisonville Community College and 119 other community colleges will be winnowed to eight-to-ten finalists in September based on how much students learn, how many complete their programs on time, and how well students do in the job market after graduating.

Madisonville Community College submitted an application on May 25, 2012 containing detailed data demonstrating that it delivers exceptional student results, uses data to drive decisions, and continually improves over time.

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.

“American employers have jobs open right now but lack enough skilled, educated workers to fill them,” Engler said. “The job training programs at community colleges must play a central role in filling those gaps and preparing the American workforce. Community colleges’ success will help determine whether and in what sectors America will continue to lead in the global economy.”

While every community college faces challenges, particularly in today’s economic climate, Secretary Riley underscored the importance of improving outcomes for community college students, the majority of whom are underrepresented minorities, “Many community colleges across this country are doing an excellent job of boosting student success, but we need to encourage all community colleges achieve excellence. When students learn more, graduate or transfer to four-year institutions, and get competitive-wage jobs after college, it helps everyone - students, employers and our nation’s economy as a whole.”

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The Aspen Prize is funded by America Achieves, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Lumina Foundation for Education.

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.

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.