The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has named Moraine Valley Community College as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation eligible to compete for its $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The prize is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges.
Based on strong and improving student outcomes in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity, 15% 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.
“We are elated to be selected to apply for this prestigious prize,” said Dr. Sylvia Jenkins, Moraine Valley president. “To be considered among the elite community colleges in this country is a true testament to the amazing work of Moraine Valley’s dedicated faculty and staff, who always put students first. Our students made their best choice by coming to Moraine Valley. They put their dreams in our hands, and we take that very seriously. It’s an honor to be recognized for the work we are doing.”
Over the last five years, Moraine Valley has maintained a strategic and distinct focus on student retention and completion on campus. College-readiness initiatives, our Agree-to-Degree campaign encouraging completion and an improved first-year experience program all have helped increase the number of students who graduate with a degree or certificate. Last spring, the college joined the Illinois Equity in Attainment statewide committee to address completion gaps in low-income and first-generation students. It also officially adopted equity and inclusion as part of the college’s core values.
Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, said it’s critical for community colleges to get better at what they do. “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 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020, and a jury will make an award decision in spring 2021.