RELEASE DATE: April 27, 2012
FOR USE: Immediate
CONTACT: Steve Quakenbush
GCCC NAMED 2ND
STRAIGHT YEAR TO TOP 10 PERCENT OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES
2012 Aspen Institute list
based on graduation rates, degrees, retention and equity in student outcomes
the second consecutive year, Garden City Community College has earned a ranking
among the top 10 percent of American community colleges.
College Excellence Program of the Aspen Institute, based in Colorado and
Washington, DC, issued the elite list this week as part of a national effort to
highlight the importance of improving student success.
is sharing the honor with 119 other top institutions from the 1,200 community
colleges serving the nation, including six of the 19 community colleges in
Kansas. The evaluations were based
on a quantitative formula that assesses performance and improvement in four
Student retention rates
Equity in student outcomes.
Wyner, Aspen Institute College Excellence Program executive director, announced
the top 10 percent list in Orlando, Fla., at the 2012 annual convention of the
American Association of Community Colleges.
selection makes the institution eligible to compete for the 2013 Aspen Prize for
Community College Excellence, which will be awarded from a $1 million fund next
March, according to the announcement from Wyner.
Selection at that level is to be based on a year-long research process
addressing how well students learn, complete degrees and get jobs with
competitive wages after graduating.
PRESIDENT CREDITS FACULTY
awards program was initiated in 2011, when GCCC was named to the first-year list
in an announcement by Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education.
The program was created as a follow-up to the White House Summit on
Community Colleges, led in late 2010 by Dr. Jill Biden, a community college
professor and wife of Vice President Joe Biden.
year’s top 120 community colleges include institutions in 29 states, ranging
from one school each in Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania and South Carolina to a total of eight in Texas and 18 in
California. Other Kansas
institutions making the list for 2012 include Butler, Coffeyville, Colby,
Hutchinson and Pratt Community Colleges, as well as Liberal-based Seward County
Community College and Area Technical School.
national selection process calls for the list to be winnowed to 8-10 finalists
in September, based on how much students learn at each institution, how many
complete their programs on times, and how well students do in the job market
“I really want to congratulate our
faculty and our staff,” said Dr. Herbert Swender, GCCC president.
“The eyes of the nation are on GCCC, not only for doing things right, but
also for doing the right things.”
“I have had the honor of serving
previously at three other community colleges,” the president said, “but I have
never before been part of an institution that offers the range, the quality and
the wealth of programs and services that you will find here.”
Garden City’s college makes the list of finalists, the campus will receive an
evaluation visit this fall, according to Deanna Mann, assistant to the president
for grants and accreditation. The
nation’s top community college will be selected from that group by a jury whose
leaders include John Engler, president of Business Roundtable, former Michigan
governor and past president of the National Association of Manufacturers; and
Richard Riley, former South Carolina governor and past U.S. secretary of
education. The top school and four
runner-up institutions will share the $1 million prize.
RAISING THE BAR
of the benefits of this recognition is that every community college
participating in the program will receive a full data report back from the Aspen
Institute, allowing us to benchmark and compare ourselves against the best of
the best,” Mann said. “This will
serve to help us in our efforts to continually strengthen the programs and the
services that we offer to our students and the community.”
and the other contenders will be asked now to submit detailed information on
student results, the use of data to reach decisions and improvement over time,
according to Rachel Roth, manager for the Aspen Institute program.
2011, the first-year award went to Valencia College, a Florida institution based
in Orlando that serves 70,000 students.
Right now, approximately 7,000,000 students attend U.S. community
success of our nation’s community colleges is more important than ever before,”
Wyner said. “At a time when a
college degree is essential to entering the middle class, community colleges
like GCCC offer the most promising path to education and employment for
literally millions of Americans. This competition spotlights excellence and
helps raise the bar for all community colleges to improve student achievement
and better prepare the next generation for the job market after college.”
“American employers have jobs open right now but lack enough skilled, educated
workers to fill them,” Engler said when the list was released.
“The job training programs at community colleges must play a central role
in filling those gaps and preparing the American workforce.”
underscored the importance of improving outcomes for community college students,
including those from underrepresented minorities.
community colleges across this country are doing an excellent job of boosting
student success, but we need to encourage all community colleges achieve
excellence,” he said. “When
students learn more, graduate or transfer to four-year institutions, and get
competitive-wage jobs after college, it helps everyone -- students, employers
and our nation’s economy as a whole.”
PUTTING STUDENT FIRST
“Garden City Community College has demonstrated a commitment to student success
for the past 92 years,” Swender said.
“The opportunity to be recognized and rewarded in this way is a
motivation for our rural-serving college to continue our endeavors in making
student access to college a priority.”
award reflects the way our faculty strive to put students first, and the way
we’re like a family in guiding students from start to finish as instructors and
advisors,” said Linda Morgan, GCCC Faculty Senate president.
think it also reflects the way so many of our faculty members keep an ear to the
real world, and use their relationships with employers to provide the very best
education for our students,” Morgan added.
Earning placement among the top 10 percent for two straight years comes as one
in a series of national recognitions.
GCCC was selected in 2011 for a $1.7 million grant from the U.S.
Department of Labor, as part of the Trac 7 Consortium in Kansas.
Then, in February of 2012, the college drew widespread attention for
leading a study on the impact of Pell Grants, and was featured in a cover story
by Community College Week magazine.
news release is available as e-mail text or a Microsoft Word document by