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SFCC: An Excellent Community College

Submitted by on April 27, 2011 – 3:04 pmNo Comment

Dear Colleagues,

We received notification last week that SFCC is among 120 out of over 1,200 community colleges in the United States deemed eligible for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.  President Obama announced the Prize last fall at his initial Community College Summit.  To identify the colleges eligible for the Prize, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program engaged a panel of experts to select what they describe as the nation’s 120 best community colleges—the top 10 percent in the country.  They used nationally available data about community colleges and their students.  It was a very objective, data-driven selection process.  According to the press release from the Aspen Institute,  each of the colleges “has demonstrated high standards for learning, college completion without delay, and community colleges as training grounds for jobs that pay competitive wages.” 

We were asked to keep this confidential until the public announcement – that was not easy.  Most of all, I wanted you to  know how very proud I am of all of you associated with SFCC.  Now we have national recognition of the excellent educational experience we offer to our students. 

Earlier this week, we gathered at the Aspen Institute on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC to hear the names of the colleges as they were announced to the public.  It was a ceremony that included many dignitaries, current and former secretaries of education, and executives from sponsoring organizations and corporations such as the Joyce Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, and Bank of America, among others.  I was there, along with several other presidents representing institutions from Florida and all across the our nation.   It was a memorable experience.

Florida is very well represented among the colleges eligible for the Aspen Prize.  There are 14 of the 28 colleges in our system in this prestigious group, more than any other state.  In all, 33 states were represented.  Here is a link where you may read about the  Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, and see a listing of all the colleges.

Now the competition gets a little tougher.  As an eligible institution, we are invited to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize by submitting an extensive application that is due in June.  A national panel of experts will then assess the applications and narrow the list to about 8 to 10 finalists.  This narrowing of the field is to be completed by early fall.  Then, each of the colleges in the final group will be visited by an evaluation team.  The Prize winner will be announced before the end of the calendar year.   We will compete, I promise!

Thank you for your dedication to our students and to their success.

Norm Stephens

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