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Washington, DC, March 18, 2015 – The Aspen Institute announced today that Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in Watertown, South Dakota is a Finalist-with-Distinction for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Selected from 1,123 community colleges nationwide, this is the third time LATI has been awarded this honor along with $100,000 in Prize funds.
“Today we celebrate in the company of an esteemed group of Top 10 community colleges who work every day to improve the lives of seven million community college students nationwide,” LATI President Mike Cartney commented. “We are extremely proud to be named a finalist with distinction for the third time in a row – the only college in history to attain that status every consecutive time. It is a tribute to our faculty, staff and leadership who strive each and every day to improve student outcomes on our campus. It’s not about being the best, it is about doing our best and the rest will follow!”
The Aspen Prize, the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges, is awarded every two years and recognizes institutions for outstanding outcomes in four areas: student learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.
This year’s Aspen Prize winner, Santa Fe College (Gainesville, FL), will receive $800,000, while a second finalist-with-distinction, West Kentucky Community & Technical College, and the “Rising Star” recipient, Kennedy-King College (Chicago, IL), will receive $100,000 prizes. (See full list of Top Ten Prize Finalists below and read more information about them at http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/college-excellence/2015aspenprize.)
“Lake Area Tech has a graduation rate that rivals most top-tier four-year colleges,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and author of What Excellent Community Colleges Do. “Every faculty and staff member has a single-minded focus: ensuring students succeed and are prepared for careers in good, available jobs.”
Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) has been a finalist-with-distinction each of the three years the Aspen Prize has been awarded since 2011. Its graduation/transfer rate is among the highest in the nation, fueled by its highly structured programs of defined courses and hands-on educational approach. LATI’s 2,000 students, most attending full-time, are guided into a technical program when they enroll – based on their aptitude, goals and interests – and guided on a clear pathway to a degree or certificate. LATI faculty track student success from start to finish and also work with local employers to build and fine-tune their exemplary workforce training programs to provide students with the exact skills they need to be job-ready. The college is part of a solid, perpetual employment loop with regional employers investing heavily in LATI and its students, providing equipment, scholarships, and field experiences and collaborating with instructors and hiring LATI graduates who then go on, as employers themselves to continue the cycle.Student outcomes:
Community colleges today enroll more than 40 percent of all US undergraduates – 7 million students – working toward degrees and certificates. These include rapidly growing numbers of lower-income and minority students. While nationwide, fewer than half of all community college students graduate, Aspen Prize finalist institutions demonstrate that community colleges can help students achieve higher levels of success while in college and after they graduate.
At today’s Prize announcement event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, national and state leaders joined in celebrating the program and the accomplishments of the finalists. Speakers included Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States; Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee – the first state in the nation to offer free community college; and Aspen Prize Jury co-chairs Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University and former Governor of Indiana, and former Representative George Miller (D-CA).
"So many Americans are relying on community colleges to provide the stepping stones to a college degree and a better future,” Dr. Biden said. “Our nation’s prosperity truly depends on our higher education system delivering more high-quality degrees to an increasingly diverse group of students. This is the time for community colleges to shine, and the institutions Aspen honors today are leading by example.”
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 fifth consecutive year, Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown has been named to the coveted Military Friendly® Schools list. The 2015 Military Friendly ® Schools list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation.
According to Lake Area Tech VA Certifying Official Julie Forman, “It is an honor to be included on the Military Friendly Schools list for 2015. We value the commitment our service members have made to our country and we, in turn, are dedicated to helping them achieve educational success at Lake Area Tech as they transition to civilian life. It is a huge transition for our military students and their families and we are here to make it easier.”
In addition to its current array of student veteran services, Lake Area Tech has implemented new marketing and recruitment strategies. These include enhancing the veterans’ services and benefits website information, maintaining an LATI Boots to Books Facebook page, and maintaining a veteran support coordinator. Additional recruiting strategies and marketing campaigns are planned for the coming year.
Now in its sixth year, the 2015 list of Military Friendly ® Schools designation and list by Victory Media is the premier, trusted resource for post-military success. Military Friendly ® provides service members transparent, data-driven ratings about post-military education and career opportunities. As in past years, the survey results were independently tested by Ernst & Young LLP based upon the weightings and methodology developed by Victory Media with input by its independent Academic Advisory Board. Criteria for consideration can be found at http://www.militaryfriendly.com, and a complete list of schools can be found through the Schools Matchmaker tool on http://www.gijobs.com.
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.
LAKE AREA TECHNICAL INSTITUTE
Nationally Honored for Community Service
LATI Named to Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction.
December 10, 2014. – Lake Area Tech was named to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its work in service learning projects both locally and nationally. Lake Area Tech students contributed well over 17,000 hours in community service projects for the 2014 award. Some of those projects included working at Joy Ranch; serving at the Banquet; helping staff with blood drives and flu shot clinics; organizing and contributing to food drives for the Salvation Army and PACH program; fundraising for the Ronald McDonald House, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Special Olympics, and Make-A-Wish; and providing Shoes 4 Kids for orphaned children of inner cities in the United States.
The Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education honors the nation’s leading colleges and universities, students, and faculty members, and staff for their commitment to bettering their communities through community service and service learning.
“At Lake Area Tech, our faculty instills a sense of community involvement in our students from day one,” said Lake Area Tech Vice President Diane Stiles. “The exceptional leadership opportunities our students experience through community service creates a sense of pride and accomplishment that can only be developed outside of the classroom. We are humbled by this recognition, which truly is a testament to our staff and students’ efforts.”
Lake Area Tech is the only South Dakota college named to the Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction list. This marks the sixth time Lake Area Tech has received the community service recognition award. The award program has grown tremendously with approximately 766 colleges nation-wide submitting hours of community service to be considered for the honor this year.
“Service and higher education go hand in hand,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “These schools are inspiring young leaders to roll up their sleeves and work alongside community members to solve problems. By recognizing the institutions who are leading the way to achieve meaningful, measurable results for the communities they serve, we also highlight the vital role all colleges and universities play in addressing community challenges and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.”