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Harper, ECC semifinalists for $1 million Aspen Prize for group faculty excellence

Harper College in Palatine and Elgin Community College are amongst 25 semifinalists for the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, officers introduced Wednesday.

They are the one two Illinois schools to make the semifinalist record, which is new this 12 months. Nominees will likely be whittled to 10 finalists by early June.

The Aspen Institute will award $1 million in prize cash to the final word winner/winners, to be introduced in late spring 2023.

Awarded each two years, the Aspen Prize honors schools with excellent efficiency in 5 vital areas: educating and studying; certificates and diploma completion; switch and bachelor’s attainment; workforce success; and equitable outcomes for college kids of coloration and college students from low-income backgrounds.

No Illinois faculty has ever received the prize since its inception in 2011.

“To have our commitment to excellence and equity in student success recognized by such a respected organization is a tremendous honor,” Harper President Avis Proctor mentioned.

Proctor credit the faculty’s inclusive surroundings, deal with the coed expertise from onboarding to commencement and past, initiatives and scholarships focusing on minority and low-income college students, and job placement alternatives as among the many causes for its inclusion on Aspen’s record.

One such instance is Harper’s One Million Degrees program, which supplies monetary assets, educational help and training to low-income college students. Graduation charges for this system’s Latinx and Black students are 70% and 73%, respectively. Program members additionally endured from fall 2019 to fall 2020 at 98%.



Improving college students’ persistence, retention and completion charges via educational help, tutoring and mentoring are major areas of focus, Proctor mentioned.

“In our strategic plan, we have committed to reducing equity gaps by 20%, increasing graduation by 10%,” she mentioned. “Removing barriers is another one of our student success goals.”

ECC has been chosen for a report fourth time among the many prime 150 schools thought-about for the popularity, partly for displaying enchancment in pupil efficiency, significantly amongst Black and Hispanic college students and people from lower-income backgrounds, faculty spokeswoman Rita Elliott mentioned.

The college-selection course of started in October. The Aspen Institute invited 150 group schools to use out of greater than 1,000 establishments nationwide based mostly on knowledge displaying sturdy and enhancing pupil efficiency in key areas: retention, completion, switch and fairness. A range committee of 16 numerous increased training specialists reviewed the information and purposes.



The committee will evaluation interviews with faculty management groups and slender its finalist choice.

“It’s a great day for us,” ECC President David Sam mentioned. “We are very proud and humbled by it.”

College completion is one space the place ECC has made nice strides, he added.

“Over the last 15 years we have awarded more degrees and certificates (53.3%) than the previous 58 years of the college’s history,” Sam mentioned.

The faculty has awarded a complete 66,023 levels and certificates in its 73-year historical past.

“It is a salute to what takes place in the classrooms at ECC,” Sam mentioned.

Josh Wyner, govt director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, mentioned commencement charges have risen greater than 6% for all college students since 2015, and 5% for college kids of coloration.

“We are thrilled to see America’s community colleges making meaningful and measurable progress, educating people from all backgrounds and preparing them for good jobs,” Wyner mentioned.


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