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Santa Barbara City College among finalists for national award

A community college in Orlando, Fla., was named Monday as the first winner of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence for its success in graduating and transferring students.

Valencia College was awarded $600,000 in prize money, with four runners-up receiving $100,000 each as part of the first major award competition that recognizes accomplishments of the nation’s individual community colleges. Santa Barbara City College was among the finalists for the award.

The announcement was made in Washington D.C., at a ceremony attended by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Jill Biden, a longtime community college educator and the wife of Vice President Joe Biden.  The Aspen Institute is a nonprofit organization that promotes values-based leadership and discussion of critical policy issues.

The Aspen Prize was created in collaboration with the Obama administration, which has made a goal of increasing the numbers of college graduates in order to boost the nation’s workforce.

Santa Barbara City College, the only California college to make the list, was among 10 finalists from an original pool of 1,200 community colleges chosen for their success in improving student knowledge and skills, degree and transfer rates, employment with competitive wages after graduation and outcomes for low-income and minority students.

“This recognition is validation of SBCC’s outstanding reputation as a premier community college, not only in the state but in the nation,” said Santa Barbara City College acting superintendent and President Jack Friedlander, who attended the ceremony. “We clearly demonstrated to the Aspen Institute selection committee that  our college is both data-driven and outcome-driven and that academic excellence and student success are our top priorities.”


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