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September 4, 2014 - Lake Area Tech staff and students celebrated President Mike Cartney’s announcement that LATI was named - for the third time in a row - one of 10 finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence!
LATI has earned a place on the 10 finalists’ list in each of the three years the prize has been awarded and was named a finalist-with-distinction in 2011 and 2013. The $1 million prize fund will be awarded in March 2015 in Washington, D.C. to the winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction.
“We're strong believers that if you stay focused on your student outcomes, then recognition like this is a natural flow from that,” Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney said. “We're certainly in esteemed company, if you look at the other nine finalists. This is really a feather in not only LATI’s hat, but also for the Watertown School Board, the community, and South Dakota as a whole. They all play a crucial role in the success of our students.”
The prize, awarded every two years, recognizes outstanding institutions selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges. With a singular focus on student success, the prize assesses community colleges’ achievements in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, high rates of employment and earnings for graduates, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.
“This small town college is delivering big results,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program in Washington, D.C. “LATI has devised a clear and compelling set of pathways for students aligned to specific available jobs. Providing high-quality instruction that combines classroom and hands-on learning, LATI has come to be relied upon by students and employers alike to deliver excellent outcomes.”
LATI stands out as one of the nation’s top community colleges for many reasons, including:
Aspen’s Finalist Selection Committee selected the 10 finalist institutions after reviewing extensive data on performance and improvements in learning, graduation, workforce outcomes, and equitable outcomes for all students, especially those in traditionally underserved racial/ethnic groups, and those from low-income backgrounds.
This fall, the Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to each of the 10 finalist institutions. Following a rigorous review process, a distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prizewinner and up to four finalists-with-distinction to be announced in March 2015.
In its second national awards presentation recognizing outstanding achievement in community colleges, the Aspen Institute named Lake Area Technical Institute one of the 2013 Top 4 two-year colleges in the nation! LATI also earned a finalist-with-distinction honor during the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence awards ceremony held in Washington, D.C. on March 19. For its achievement, the Aspen Institute awarded LATI $100,000 for program support.
Lake Area Tech learned last September it was a Top 10 finalist for the prestigious award that’s based on outstanding achievement in four areas: student learning outcomes, degree completion, labor market success in securing good jobs after school, and facilitating minority and low-income student success.
LATI President Deb Shephard and Vice-President Michael Cartney represented the school at the presentation. President Shephard said the award is a great honor that comes with responsibility.
“The award is a nice accolade and it keeps the pressure on us,” she said. “When we get this kind of recognition, we want to keep the momentum going and we don’t want to let anyone down. Students are going to expect more from us when they come to Lake Area Tech because of this award so we’ve got to deliver.”
The Aspen Institute recognized that three of every four full-time students who begin at Lake Area Tech graduate or transfer within three years – a rate among the highest of any community college in the nation. LATI was recognized during the selection process for high achievements including:
“From the moment students enroll, Lake Area Technical Institute is structured so that students have a great chance of both completing their degrees and gaining the hands-on skills needed to land a good job,” said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “With clear, rigorous programs aligned to available jobs, LATI shows the way to not just high graduation rates, but degrees with high value for both students and employers alike.
President Shephard acknowledged the award is the result of a collective effort among many groups of people. “This award is not just for Lake Area Tech staff and students,” she said. “It’s for so many patrons starting with the Watertown School District administration, all of our business partners, state government, and the community. We’ve been building on this for decades.”
Lake Area Tech shares the finalist-with-distinction honor with Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY. The co-winners of the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence are Walla Walla Community College in Walla Walla, WA and Santa Barbara City College in Santa Barbara, CA.
September 5, 2012 - Lake Area Tech students learned today that - for the second year in a row - their school is one of the top 10 finalists for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges! Aspen officials released the 10 finalists today, chosen from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges. The Prize recognizes the most outstanding institutions for achievements in four areas: student learning outcomes, degree and college completion, labor market success in students securing jobs after college, and minority and low-income student success.
“Lake Area Technical Institute not only leads the nation in graduation rates, but is also remarkably successful at connecting its graduates to competitive-wage jobs,” said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “LATI is delivering success to students and the community, listening to what the labor market is saying and arming its students with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace, and that’s good for everyone’s bottom line.”
Lake Area Tech joins three other top tech schools repeating as top 10 finalists including Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA; Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla, WA; and West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, KY. Our hat goes off to those institutions as well as the six other community colleges selected as first-time finalists. Check back to our site often for updates throughout the selection process. The $1 million Prize will be awarded to the winner and up to four finalists with distinction in March of 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Lake Area Tech was named as a Top Five Finalist with Distinction for the first Aspen Prize in 2011. Below is the history of LATI’s journey on the road to the Aspen Prize.
Want to say you attended one of the best two-year schools in the nation? On December 12, 2011 Lake Area Tech was named among the TOP FIVE of two-year schools in the NATION by the Aspen Institute’s Community College Excellence program! That’s definite proof you learned from the best!
What does it take to be TOP FIVE?
LATI has been recognized for big-time student success. Our graduation rate is almost twice the national average, our programs lead immediately to real employment, and our graduates earn 22% more than other new hires in the regional labor market.
That's right. In a first-ever effort to recognize the best-performing two-year colleges in the nation, LATI has emerged shining. The Aspen Prize competition - first unveiled at the White House Community College Summit in October 2010 – included a year-long, rigorous review of 1,200 U.S. two year colleges by the Aspen Institute. Aspen was looking for elements that "all U.S. community colleges should seek to emulate"; specifically a high bar for learning, a focus on college completion, and real attention to preparing students for 21st century jobs. After research, data collection and a campus visit from the Aspen Institute's finalist committee, Lake Area Tech placed in the top five of the original 1,200 two year colleges!
Check out what the experts are saying about Lake Area Tech (below):
Through their Aspen applications, Lake Area Technical Institute (Watertown, SD), Miami Dade College (Miami, FL), Walla Walla Community College (Walla Walla, WA), and West Kentucky Community and Technical College (Paducah, KY) all demonstrated bold commitment to results in preparing students for academic and professional success...
Thanks to aggressive grant-seeking and the school’s strong business partnerships, students learn on state-of-the-art equipment: the only truck chassis dynamometer at a South Dakota school; new John Deere tractors each year; a cadaver lab funded by a local hospital. Even the campus itself is a cutting edge tool, fitted with water control features that environmental technology students use as a learning lab...
LATI is providing students with the skills they need- the hands on learning they need, to make sure that when they graduate- employers are going to be lining up to hire them, and give them jobs with good wages and benefits...
Colleges across the country have a lot to learn from the Lake Area structure and work with employers. Scott Lawler, a manager with 3M in Brookings, is one of those employers. He spoke at Monday’s award ceremony. With 3M plants in Aberdeen, New Ulm, Minn.; and Hutchinson, Minn.; Lawler said competition for Lake Area graduates is intense.
"My peers fight for the kids out of Lake Area because they are so good," Lawler said. "The thing is, Lake Area listens to the kids. They listen to the business world and ask, 'How can we fit in?' Then they make it happen."...
The best community colleges, they found, were unusually focused and intentional when it came to structuring the learning experience. Large or small, the top two-years didn't just offer courses and wait for students to sign up. Lake Area Technical Institute, in South Dakota, for example, has 27 technical programs, each with a defined curriculum. Sixty-six percent of its students graduate within three years...
For the fourth consecutive year, Lake Area Technical Institute has been named to the coveted Military Friendly Schools ® list. The 2014 Military Friendly Schools ® list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and technical schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.
“Inclusion on the 2014 list of Military Friendly Schools ® shows Lake Area Tech’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students,” said Sean Collins, Vice President at Victory Media and a nine-year Navy veteran.
According to Lake Area Tech Vice President and Veterans Representative, Mike Cartney, “It is an honor to be selected to be on the Military Friendly Schools list. It comes with a lot of pride in knowing that what we are doing here at Lake Area Tech is benefiting our veterans. They are taking another huge step in their lives and making career decisions that may have been delayed as they served our country. It is a big transition for them and we are here to make it easier.”
In addition to its current student veteran services, LATI has implemented new marketing and recruitment strategies within the last year. These include enhancing the veterans’ services website information, creating a LATI Boots to Books Facebook page, and adding new part-time veteran support coordinators. Additional recruiting strategies and marketing campaigns are planned for the coming year.
For the sixth consecutive year, Lake Area Technical Institute is one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to the latest survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The results, released today in The Chronicle’s seventh-annual report on The Academic Workplace, are based on a survey of more than 43,000 employees at 278 colleges and universities across the country. In addition, Lake Area Tech once again earned the distinction of being a 2014 Honor Roll school, a result of its high rankings in the categories surveyed. LATI is the only South Dakota college included on the Honor Roll.
In all, 92 of the 278 institutions surveyed achieved “Great College to Work For ®”recognition for specific best practices and policies. Of those, only 42 colleges, which include Lake Area Tech, achieved Honor Roll status. Lake Area Tech employees rated the institution highly enough to win Honor Roll honors in the following categories: Collaborative Governance, Confidence in Senior Leadership, Job Satisfaction, Professional/Career Development Programs, Respect and Appreciation, Supervisor or Department Chair Relationship, and Teaching Environment.
“At Lake Area Tech, every job is focused on getting our students launched into a good career,” said Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney. “We do that through a collaborative, open, and mission-driven environment that values everyone’s contributions. To have staff verify that Lake Area Tech is a ‘great place to work’ for the sixth consecutive year affirms our efforts. No other school in the nation in our category has made the Honor Roll six times.”
The survey results are based on a two-part assessment process: an institutional audit that captured demographics and workplace policies from each institution, and a survey administered to faculty, administrators, and professional support staff. The primary factor in deciding whether an institution received recognition was the employee feedback.
To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle worked with ModernThink LLC, a strategic human capital-consulting firm that has conducted numerous “Best Places to Work” programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide.
“The institutions that the Great Colleges program recognizes provide innovative educational experiences – while also offering their employees outstanding workplace experiences – and we are eager to help readers learn more about them,” said Liz McMillen, The Chronicle’s editor.
Great Colleges to Work For® is one of the largest and most respected workplace-recognition programs in the country. For more information and to view all the results of the survey, visit The Chronicle's web site.
Over the past year, Lake Area Tech students and staff have volunteered their time and talents to over fifty projects in the Watertown community - serving at least one third of the population through food drives, health care assistance, flood relief, community events, benefits and other activities.
"This past year, with all projects combined, Lake Area Tech students and staff have given over 19,000 hours back to the community" - President Deb Shephard
In recognition of these efforts, LATI was named to the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Lake Area has been recognized for four years in a row as “a leader among institutions of higher education” by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement