FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2018
Contact: Martha Parham
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American Association of Community Colleges Honors Visionary Work of Community Colleges
Dallas, TX—The nation’s community colleges represent the best in American higher education. They are constantly innovating to increase access and success for the 12 million students they serve. Five community colleges were honored for their work advancing access and success for students on April 30 at the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Awards of Excellence Gala, part of AACC’s 98th Annual Convention in Dallas, Texas.
Lee College (Texas) took home the prize in the Advancing Diversity category. The college, led by President Dennis Brown, has taken a strategic, proactive approach to addressing inequities hindering the persistence of its underserved students, especially the growing Latino population. With grant funding, the college established a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) Initiatives Department, which provides students with a centralized hub to take advantage of academic support. Best practices learned from the HSI Initiatives Department led Lee College to receive the federal First in the World (FITW) Grant. With the funding, the college developed its first Weekend College Program, which meets the needs of many part-time students. Lee College now boasts a three-year graduation rate of 70 percent, in comparison to the state average of 20 percent.
The winner in the Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership category is Maryland’s Prince George’s Community College and MGM Resorts. On Dec. 8, 2016, MGM National Harbor (MGM) opened its doors as a world-class destination resort in Prince George’s County, Maryland. MGM has invested in both the community and the college, advancing the economic prosperity of residents. PGCC, led by President Charlene Dukes, has trained 1,100 students through its Hospitality Express Certification Program and Dealer School, both funded by MGM, and more than 50 percent of those students are now filling positions in various departments throughout the resort, including the hotel, entertainment, casino and restaurants. In addition, MGM’s relationship with the executive and legislative branches of government allied for the creation of the Prince George’s County Promise Scholarship Program, which will help meet the financial needs of 500 students annually.
The Faculty Innovation category honors a community college faculty member who thinks outside the box to increase student success. This year’s winner is Alison Consol, a professor and program director at Wake Technical Community College in North Carolina. Consol has increased access for students by redesigning programs to be offered completely online and by adding stackable credentials. She creates short YouTube video clips to teach key concepts using light board and green screen technology and engages her students with free texting and social media services to build community and help them stay on track.
Consol uses learning management system rubrics and data analytics to monitor student progress, leading to an increase in student success. She also created proactive advising and eVising models that all program faculty now use to help students develop graduation plans. Consol has scaled her innovations by leading the development of a college-wide online teaching certification for faculty as part of the college’s quality enhancement project.
Safety has more and more been on the minds of education leaders. For its efforts to keep students safe, South Mountain Community College (SMCC), part of Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona, received an award in the Community College Safety, Leadership, and Planning category. The institution, led by President Shari Olson, established a Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) – a diverse group responsible for multi-hazard planning and coordination of emergency preparedness activities under the guidelines of the National Incident Management System. The CIMT group aligns their strategic planning and operational activities with the Maricopa Emergency Management System, which provides additional guidance and support for all Maricopa Community Colleges.
The college also hosts an annual Campus Safety Awareness Event where everyone practices their safety response to emergency situations. And simulation drills and training have been completed at SMCC in collaboration with Arizona State University’s Emergency Preparedness Department.
Clark State Community College received the award in the CEO/Board Relationship category. The Ohio college’s board of trustees demonstrates an unwavering commitment to students and adheres to a strong shared governance model that encourages input from faculty, staff and student leaders. At each board meeting, a student presents his/her success story to ensure that the board is focused on what matters most.
The board works closely with the college president, Jo Alice Blondin, to shape college policies and goals that align with student success and that remove barriers for students. Together, they have led Clark State in a comprehensive strategic planning process that has led to the successful implementation of Ohio’s performance-based funding model. To increase access to college, Blondin and the board also implemented the Tuition Challenge Program that provides students with a 10-percent tuition discount. In addition, wraparound services have been emphasized to address barriers to success.
The end goal of every new program or initiative at a community college is to help students succeed. This year’s award recipient in the Student Success category is Ohio’s Lorain County Community College, led by President Marcia Ballinger. The college has strategically infused the student success agenda into all facets of the institution, creating a culture of continuous improvement based on data, research, innovation and evidence. Student success remains a top priority, spanning two of the college’s strategic plans, and the foundation of the College Completion Plan.
LCCC has refocused its vision to ensure equity for all students with a focus on transfer. Working with its K–12 partners, LCCC has mapped out pathways for high school dual enrollment to the bachelor’s degree by age 20. LCCC leads Ohio in bachelor’s degree completion for its transfer students. The college is scaling promising programs like co-requisite delivery of developmental education. Since 2011, the college has tripled its 150-percent IPEDS graduation rate and has increased the number of degrees and certificates awarded by 53 percent.
Award winners were selected by a committee of the AACC Board of Directors. Finalist colleges also were recognized at the Awards of Excellence Gala.
As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivers educational and economic opportunity for 12 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s nearly 1,200 member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all.