Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

May 2012

Aspen Institute Names NOC as One of the Nation’s Best Community Colleges

The Washington-based Aspen Institute announced that Northern Oklahoma College (NOC) has been selected as one of the top 120 community colleges in the nation and the only one in Oklahoma.

In the letter informing NOC President Dr. Cheryl Evans that NOC made the top 120 list, Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, wrote, “I am delighted that your community college has been selected as one of only 120 nationally to be eligible for the second annual $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America's community colleges.

“The prize, inaugurated in 2011, seeks to galvanize and accelerate efforts to improve community college student outcomes, bolstering effective leaders and enabling institutions to learn more effectively from their peers.”

The nonprofit Aspen Institute identified the top 120, which is 10 percent of all institutions, using a quantitative formula that assesses performance and improvement in four areas: graduation rates, degrees awarded, student retention rates, and equity in student outcomes.

During the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges in Orlando, Fla., when he announced the top 120, Wyner said, “The success of our nation’s community colleges is more important than ever before. 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.”

Northern will now compete with the others on the list for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Ten finalists will be named in September. The Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to each of the finalists in the fall. A distinguished prize jury co-chaired by John Engler, president of Business Roundtable, former Michigan governor and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers and Richard Riley, former South Carolina governor and U.S. Secretary of Education, will select a grand prize winner and four runners-up, to be announced in March 2013. A full list of the 120 community colleges is available at www.AspenPrize.org.

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