CF Among Top 15% of Colleges in Nation, Eligible for $1 Million Aspen Prize

Aspen Institute Logo for Top 150 Colleges in the NationNov. 6, 2019 — The College of Central Florida has been selected as one of the top 15% of colleges in the country to be eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The Aspen Prize is based on performance in student outcomes, including graduation rates, improvement in student success and equitable student success.

In each two-year cycle, a jury of national experts selects 10 finalist institutions, and, ultimately, one winner of the prestigious award. CF was also recognized and deemed eligible for the $1 million prize in 2011, 2013 and 2017.

“Recognition by the Aspen Institute demonstrates that CF faculty and staff are delivering exceptional education opportunities for our community,” said Dr. James Henningsen, CF president. “We are looking forward to providing the additional documentation to show that we are one of the best colleges in the nation.”

The Aspen Prize has brought a new level of public attention to community colleges, defined comprehensive measures of excellence in outcomes for community college students, and uncovered and disseminated practices that help exceptional colleges ensure great outcomes for their students. The 150 community colleges named were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes. Located in 39 states in urban, rural, and suburban areas, serving as few as 500 students and as many as 75,000 students, these colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector.

Data show that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates, and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible colleges.

“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students —through graduation and beyond.”

The top 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished jury will make award decisions in spring 2021.

Previous winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence are: Miami Dade College and Indian River State College, 2019; Lake Area Technical College (South Dakota), 2017; Santa Fe College, 2015; Santa Barbara City College (California) and Walla Walla Community College (Washington), 2013; Valencia College, 2011.

For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit www.highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize.

The Aspen Prize is generously funded by ECMC Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit http://highered.aspeninstitute.org/ and www.linkedin.com/showcase/aspenhighered and follow @AspenHigherEd on Twitter.

The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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