Aspen Institute names Seminole State among top 150 U.S. Community Colleges

$1 Million prize recognizes excellence in equitable outcomes for students in and after college

Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Written by: Seminole State Staff

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has named Seminole State College of Florida as one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges. Based on strong and improving student outcomes—including in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity—15 percent of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply for the Aspen Prize.

“This is the first time that Seminole State College of Florida has been invited to apply for this prestigious award. It recognizes our college’s gains in diversity, equity, student achievement and graduation rates as well as the hard work of our faculty and staff who prepare Seminole State students to enter the Central Florida workforce in high-paying, high demand fields” said Georgia L. Lorenz, Ph.D., president of Seminole State College. She continued, “To add to this honor, we have also been invited to apply for The Excellence and Equity in Community College STEM Award. This recognizes outstanding community college STEM programs that prepare diverse students for middle-skill jobs in science, technology, engineering and math and the strong outcomes of our students in the classroom and graduates in the workplace.”

The 150 community colleges named as eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize 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 shows 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 ten 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 (FL) and Indian River State College (FL), 2019; Lake Area Technical College (SD), 2017; Santa Fe College (FL), 2015; Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA), 2013; Valencia College (FL), 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


About Seminole State College of Florida

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit seminolestate.edu, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/seminolestate and follow us on Twitter: @seminolestate.  #SSC #GoStateGoFar 

Aspen Institute

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.

About 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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