PRCC competing for $1 million Aspen Prize

May 2, 2011 - 3:02pm -- braswell

POPLARVILLE - Pearl River Community College has been named to a list of national two-year colleges under consideration for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.The winner and a runner-up will be announced in DecemberOfficials at PRCC were notified of the college selection just days before the official announcement on April 25 in Washington, D.C., said PRCC President William Lewis.It certainly is an honor to be selected to be a finalist, as only 120 community colleges across the nation were selected for the final competition for the award, he said. We are certainly grateful that the Aspen Institute has recognized the value and the quality of education that Pearl River Community Colllege students receive, and we look forward to competing and, hopefully, winning this coveted prize.The Aspen Institute mission is to foster values_based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues, according to its website. The institute is based in Washington, D.C., Aspen, Colo., and Maryland Eastern Shore.The institute looked at publicly-available data on graduation rates, retention rates and the total number of degrees/certificates awarded relative to total enrollment to select the 120 community colleges.A Finalist Selection Committee of former community college presidents and faculty, along with researchers and policy experts, will review extensive data reports submitted by each participating community college to select eight to 10 finalists. The final group will be named in September, and site visits will be made to each college.The Aspen Prize will honor excellence, shine a spotlight on community colleges that deliver exceptional results in student completion rates and workforce success, stimulate innovation and define success, according to the institute website.Should PRCC win, the prize money would directly benefit students, Lewis said.It would certainly be used to enhance our instructional program in whatever ways were dictated, he said.Four other Mississippi community colleges - Delta, East Central, Hinds and Mississippi Gulf Coast - are among the 120 finalists.

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