“Florida’s community college system today is regarded as the very best in the land,” boasts the Gainesville Sun. Florida has placed more community colleges in the Aspen Institute‘s top 10 percent than any other state: 15 of the state’s 28 community colleges made the list this year. Gainesville’s Santa Fe College and Broward College in Fort Lauderdale were listed in the top 10 colleges in the nation.
Aspen honors give community colleges more credibility, says Jim Henningsen, president of the College of Central Florida in Ocala.
“For us, what’s great is it’s third-party validation of the great work we do for students and our communities around the state,” he said. “… We’re the best investment for the dollar that the state’s got, and the state knows that.”
Because of the Aspen recognition “higher caliber students are picking community colleges,” says Henningsen.
The Aspen Institute has named 120 community colleges in 31 states that are in the running for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The finalists were evaluated on the basis of student persistence, completion and transfer rates, consistent improvement in outcomes over time and equity in outcomes for students of all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Valencia College in Florida won the 2012 prize.
Ten finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence have been named by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. The winner and up to three runners-up will share in the $1 million prize fund.
Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, South Dakota
Miami Dade College, Miami, Florida
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Perkinston, Mississippi
Mott Community College, Flint, Michigan
Northeast Iowa Community College, Calmar, Iowa
Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, California
Southwest Texas Junior College, Uvalde, Texas
Valencia College, Orlando, Florida
Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla, Washington
West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, Kentucky