REND LAKE COLLEGE REPEATS ON ASPEN INSTITUTE'S LIST OF AMERICA'S BEST COMMUNITY COLLEGES, WILL COMPETE FOR $1 MILLION NATIONAL AWARD
INA, Ill. (April 25, 2012) – For the second straight year, Rend Lake College has been recognized among the top 10 percent of community colleges in the nation for its student success rates.
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program on Monday named its 120 top community colleges, challenging them to compete for a $1 million fund through the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The 2011 winner was Valencia College in Orlando, Fla. The institute’s mission is to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students by sharing and building on best practices found at community colleges across the nation. The goal especially targets the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses.
“It is, of course, an honor to receive this recognition for a second straight year for the quality efforts made here at RLC to ensure our students are successful,” said RLC President Charley D. Holstein. “Our practices remain student-focused. Our student success rates, compared to our peers nationally, depict just that.”
“The success of our nation’s community colleges is more important than ever before,” said Aspen Institute College Excellence Program Executive Director Josh Wyner, who on Monday announced the names of the 120 top community colleges at the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges in Orlando, Fla. “At a time when a college degree is essential to entering the middle class, community colleges offer the most promising path to education and employment for literally millions of Americans. This competition spotlights excellence and helps raise the bar for all community colleges to improve student achievement and better prepare the next generation for the job market after college.”
RLC’s graduation rate – above 50 percent – is more than double the state average and highest of all public two-year colleges in Illinois, according to the latest information from the Illinois Community College Board. Other Illinois community colleges that made the list include: Illinois Eastern Community Colleges – Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Olney Central College in Olney, and Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel; Lake Land College in Mattoon; and Spoon River College in Canton.
“We continue to concentrate our efforts on student success as the indicators assessed by the Aspen Institute illustrate,” said Holstein. “With a dedicated and focused faculty, staff, and administration, these indicators will continue to improve even more as we remain engaged in ensuring the success of our students.”
According to The Aspen Institute, it decided which community colleges across the U.S. would make its top 120 by using a quantitative formula that assesses performance and improvement in four areas: graduation rates, degrees awarded, student retention rates, and equity in student outcomes. These colleges will now compete for the prestigious honor following a year-long research process into how well their students learn, complete degrees, and get jobs with competitive wages after graduating.
“We do plan to compete for the $1 million Aspen prize,” added Holstein. “For the second straight year, the Aspen Institute has recognized us for our efforts in ensuring student success, so I am confident our efforts and practices should make us competitive for the award.”
A full list of the 120 community colleges is available at www.AspenPrize.org. Prize winners will be announced in March 2013, according to the institute.