The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today named the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) as one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. Based on strong and improving in student outcomes—including in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity—15 percent of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply for the Aspen Prize.
“The College of Southern Maryland is honored to be among the top 150 community colleges nationwide that are eligible to move forward in the next round of competition for this prestigious award. This invitation recognizes not only the significant work we are carrying out to advance student learning but also our commitment and achievements to close equity gaps for our underrepresented minorities,” said CSM President Maureen Murphy. “This is a recognition that all of us in Southern Maryland can be proud of as it distinguishes CSM as being firmly in the top tier of all community colleges nationally.”
The 150 community colleges named today as eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes. Located in 39 states in urban, rural, and suburban areas, serving as few as 500 students and as many as 75,000 students, these colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector.
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.
“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “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 ten finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished jury will make award decisions in spring 2021.
Previous winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence are: Miami Dade College (FL) and Indian River State College (FL), 2019; Lake Area Technical College (SD), 2017; Santa Fe College (FL), 2015; Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA), 2013; Valencia College (FL), 2011.
For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit www.highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize.
The Aspen Prize is generously funded by ECMC Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit http://highered.aspeninstitute.org/ and www.linkedin.com/showcase/aspenhighered and follow @AspenHigherEd on Twitter.
The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.
The sixth largest community college in Maryland and the fifth-largest veteran-serving Maryland college or university, the College of Southern Maryland is a public, regional community college, serving students in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties of Southern Maryland. Regionally accredited, CSM provides programs and services with a special focus on local workforce development to maintain and grow a healthy economy and community. CSM serves more than 23,000 credit and continuing education students at its campuses located in Hughesville, La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick, as well as a Higher Education Center shared with University of Maryland University College in Waldorf and a Center for Transportation Training in La Plata. For information, visit www.csmd.edu and follow CSM’s news on Twitter at @CSMHeadlines.
In announcing the news today, Murphy called the invitation to compete for the Aspen Prize “the community college equivalent to an Oscar nomination.” See video below.