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Aspen Institute welcomes Top 10 colleges to Washington DC

The Aspen Institute welcomed its Top 10 community colleges to Washington D.C. today during the awarding of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges. Brazosport College was named one of the Top 10 schools late last year.

Santa Barbara City College of Santa Barbara, CA. and Walla Walla Community College of Walla Walla, WA. were recognized as the nation’s top community colleges during today’s ceremony.

The Aspen results were announced in a ceremony at The Newseum in Washington D.C., and was attended by leaders from across the fields of education, business, labor and philanthropy.

“Brazosport College is honored to be included in this prestigious list of colleges,” Brazosport College President Dr. Millicent Valek said. “We’ve had a laser-level focus on student success over the course of the last five years and being recognized as an Aspen finalist shows how a specific combination of actions can make a difference for our students.”

Selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges, the Aspen 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.

Today’s results come after an announcement of the 10 finalists in September, and followed a rigorous, yearlong effort by the Aspen Institute to assemble and review an unprecedented collection of data on community colleges and the critical elements of student success. Aspen representatives visited the campuses of all 10 finalists.

“Brazosport College earned this recognition because it not only works incredibly hard to improve completion rates – dramatically improving student retention over the past five years – but also because it is already a national leader in workforce outcomes for graduates,” said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “Advances in completion outcomes have been driven by strong analysis of data and the development of multiple student success initiatives, including a model student success course. Close partnerships with the area’s petrochemical industry, which have led to the development of a number of highly effective education and training programs, have yielded graduate employment and earnings rates that are exceptionally high.

“Brazosport College has also shown very strong improvement over the past five years in the number of minority students who earn certificates, degrees and/or transfer to four-year colleges,” Wyner added.

Among the reasons Brazosport College was recognized as one of the nation’s top community colleges was its retention rate of first-time full- and part-time students, which more than doubled over the past five years – up to 92 percent in 2010 from 40 percent in 2006, as well as the fact 2011 graduates earn, on average, 82 percent more than do other new hires in the area. The average wage of students who graduated in 2006 is $77,272 – 65 percent higher than the wages of all other workers in the area.

The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence seeks to galvanize and accelerate efforts to improve community college student outcomes, bolstering effective leaders and enabling institutions to learn more effectively from their peers. For more information about Brazosport College call (979) 230-3000 or visit www.brazosport.edu. To learn more about the Aspen Institute, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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