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Eastern Florida Nominated for Prestigious Aspen Prize

October 19, 2017

Eastern Florida State College is again in the running for the prestigious Aspen Prize awarded to the top community college in the nation.

The nomination comes from the Aspen Institute that named Eastern Florida among 150 colleges eligible for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and the $1 million award that goes with it.

The prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s highest achievement for community college performance and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes.

The 150 colleges named as eligible for the 2019 Prize were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public colleges in 39 states.

Eastern Florida President Dr. Jim Richey said the nomination shows the college’s commitment to high standards as it continues offering new programs that lead to student success and excellent careers.

“Everything we do is centered on providing students the resources they need to excel in the classroom and in the workplace,” said Richey. “It’s what makes Eastern Florida a very special place to learn and grow.”

Richey pointed to Eastern Florida receiving a prestigious Gold Rating for outstanding performance from the Florida Board of Education this year as an example that its focus is paying off for students.

The Board gave the college high grades in four key areas:
•    Student retention rates
•    Student completion rates
•    Students attaining jobs after graduation or continuing their education
•    Wages for graduates in entry-level jobs

Eastern Florida was also cited as among the best institutions of higher education in Florida this year at the Chancellor's Best Practices Summit where leaders from the 28-member Florida College System reviewed their performance.

It was named in the system's top tier for exceeding state goals in these areas:

Students attaining employment in the careers for which they studied; students gaining employment or continuing their education after graduating; students graduating on time; and students pursuing a Bachelor's Degree after earning an Associate's Degree.

This is the fourth time the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization, has considered Eastern Florida for the prize.

The college was previously selected as among 150 contenders in 2012, 2014, and 2016.

The Aspen Institute will announce 10 finalists for the prize in May 2018 and the winner in early 2019.

"Especially in the current social and economic climate, it is exceptionally important that our nation's community colleges develop the diverse talent needed to fuel democratic engagement, social mobility, and economic opportunity and growth," said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.

"Through this competition we're working to inspire other institutions across our country to ensure more students succeed in college and their lives beyond those campuses."