The following statement was released by William E. Trueheart, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream Inc., a national nonprofit dedicated to helping low-income students and students of color stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree.
Silver Spring, MD (December 12, 2011) – We are proud to congratulate Valencia College for winning The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Valencia College – an Achieving the Dream Leader College and 2009 winner of Achieving the Dream’s most prestigious award– the Leah Meyer Austin Institutional Student Success Leadership Award – was recognized today for demonstrated excellence in improved student performance over time. Valencia College was also recognized for achieving high levels of equity in outcomes among all student populations, and for its deliberate and sustained focus on using data to guide practice and policy to sustain student success and program completion. Today’s recognition is the culmination of an intensive, year-long process that included the review of institutional-level, disaggregated data on completion, labor market, and learning outcomes, and two-day site visits to each of the ten finalist colleges.
We want to especially applaud Valencia College President Sanford C. “Sandy” Shugart and the entire faculty and staff, who are outstanding leaders in every sense of the word – serious, committed, and effective exemplars of the student success process. The work of improving student success is difficult, important, and urgent. Across the nation, more colleges are committing to raising persistence and graduation rates. Achieving the Dream Institutions like Valencia College are national exemplars of what is possible with an institution-wide commitment to student success and equity.
We are also proud to congratulate Achieving the Dream colleagues at Mott Community College and Southwest Texas Junior College who were among the top ten finalists for the Aspen Prize.