Washington, DC, March 19, 2013 – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program announced today Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota as a finalist-with-distinction for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Selected from the nation’s more than 1,000 public community colleges, Lake Area Technical Institute – a second-time finalist – will receive a $100,000 prize to support its programs.
As the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges, the Prize recognizes institutions for outstanding achievement in four areas: student learning outcomes, degree completion, labor market success in securing good jobs after college, and facilitating minority and low-income student success.
“From the moment students enroll, Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) 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.”
Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States, joined John Engler, president of Business Roundtable and former Governor of Michigan, Richard Riley, former US Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor, and Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine, at the Newseum in Washington, DC in celebrating the program and the hard work of the applicants. The winners and finalists-with-distinction were selected by a Prize Jury of 12 prominent leaders in education, business, civil rights, and public service. Prize winners Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA) will each receive $400,000. The second finalist-with-distinction, Kingsborough Community College (CUNY) (NY) also receives $100,000.
Three of every four full-time students who begin at Lake Area Technical Institute graduate or transfer within three years – a rate among the highest of any community college in the U.S. Offering only technical degrees, its defined, block program structure and strong focus on student advising create a clear pathway to a degree. Faculty members provide an extremely high level of individualized support to each student in order to shepherd them through courses and semesters, and into their chosen careers. With exemplary workforce training programs in 27 different areas from aviation mechanics to nursing, programs work closely with industry representatives, some bringing them in almost every week to work with students.
76% of first-time full-time students graduate or transfer to four-year colleges within three years, compared with the national average of 40%.
Recent graduates earn 40% more on average than do other new hires in the area.
41% of first-time full-time students receive Pell grants, the main federal financial aid program for students.
Nearly half of America’s college students attend community college, with more than seven million students – youth and adult learners – enrolled across America, working toward degrees and certificates.
“As a community college teacher, I have seen firsthand the tremendous power community colleges have to change lives,” Dr. Biden said. “Community colleges are essential to the President’s goal of having the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world. They represent a uniquely American idea – that if you work hard and get a good education, you can get the skills you need for a good job and build a better life for you and your family. We are pleased to celebrate the contributions of these Prize winners and finalists.”
Community college students are more likely than four-year college students to be minorities, to come from low-income backgrounds, and to be the first in their families to pursue higher education. As the most affordable option in higher education, the average tuition at community colleges is about $3,000 per year per student, less than half the average at public four year colleges and 10 percent of what is now charged by top private four-year colleges and universities.
“Community colleges are vital to a healthy American economy,” said Engler, co-chair of the jury that selected the winners. “With millions of unfilled jobs in this country because workers don’t have the skills to fill them, it’s critically important that we continue to support a strong community college system.”
“We owe it to students to shine a spotlight on community colleges that are excelling at providing students with an affordable high-quality education,” said Riley, jury co-chair. “This Prize is about improving student achievement and raising the bar for all community colleges because all Americans, particularly the growing population of low-income and minority students, are increasingly relying on community colleges to give them the skills they need for a better future.”
The Selection Process
The Aspen Institute convenes three committees of thought leaders and practitioners to evaluate community college performance through rigorous review of data and practice:
Data/Metrics Advisory Panel, the Finalist Selection Committee, and the Prize Jury.
The 12-member Prize Jury that selected this year’s winners and finalists-with-distinction included:
● John Engler (Co-chair), President, Business Roundtable, former Governor of Michigan
● Richard Riley (Co-chair), Senior Partner, Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLP and EducationCounsel LLC; former Secretary of Education; former Governor of South Carolina
● Esther Aguilera, President/CEO, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
● Anthony P. Carnevale, Director, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
● David Leonhardt, Washington Bureau Chief, The New York Times
● Michael Lomax, President/CEO, United Negro College Fund
● Joe Loughrey, retired CEO, Cummins, Inc.
● Wes Moore, Author, The Other Wes Moore; military veteran
● John Morgridge, Chairman Emeritus, Cisco Systems, Inc.
● Charlene Nunley, Program Director, University of Maryland University College’s Doctor of Management in Community College Policy and Administration; former President, Montgomery Community College
● Jon Schnur, Executive Chairman, America Achieves
● General Anthony Zinni, former Commander in Chief of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), United States Marine Corps (retired)
Affiliations of Prize Jury members listed solely for purposes of identification, and do not reflect organizational endorsement of the Aspen Prize.
For a full electronic press kit, including additional student outcomes, policies and practices that distinguished the Aspen Prize Winners and Finalists-with-Distinction, as well as details on all of the Prize Finalists, please visit: www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/aspen-prize/media-resources.
Media Contact: LuAnn Strait, (605) 882-5284 ext. 241, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Aspen Prize is funded by America Achieves, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the 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 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. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.