Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech) has announced its selection by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program to be eligible to apply for the Aspen Prize.
SAU Tech has made the list before as one of the few two-year colleges in Arkansas selected by Aspen. SAU Tech was one of six two-year colleges in Arkansas deemed eligible to apply for the 2021 prize by the Aspen Institute.
The prize is for 2021, and the College must apply for the possibility of receiving a $1 million award for community college excellence.
The institute said nominations are based on strong and improving student outcomes—including in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity. Fifteen percent of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply for the Aspen Prize.
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 150 community colleges named are eligible to compete for the 2021 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.
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.
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.
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