Aspen Institute again names San Jacinto College a finalist for Aspen Prize

 In Recognitions / Awards

PASADENA, Texas – The Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence has once again named San Jacinto College as one of 10 finalists for the prestigious 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

San Jacinto now enters the final stage of the competition for $1 million in prize funds which will be awarded in March 2019 in Washington, D.C., to the winner and up to four finalists with distinction.

“We are honored to once again be named an Aspen Institute Top 10 finalist,” said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor. “The work that we do every day at San Jacinto College to help our students complete their higher education credential is critically important to our region. Our faculty, staff and administrators work tirelessly to help our students achieve their goals. I want to thank the Aspen Institute for recognizing San Jacinto College as one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation for 2019.”

Awarded every two years since 2011 by the Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based educational and policy studies organization, the Prize recognizes institutions that achieve high student outcomes, and improve those outcomes. San Jacinto College is one of 10 finalists from an original pool of more than 1,100 public community colleges nationwide. Focused solely on student access and success, the Aspen Prize recognizes community colleges with exceptional achievements in four areas:

  • Student learning;
  • Certificate and degree completion while in community college and after transferring to a four-year institution;
  • Employment and earnings rates after graduation; and
  • Access for and success of minority and low-income students.

“Since winning the Rising Star award in 2017, San Jacinto College has kept getting better,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “Through distinctive efforts to coach faculty on improving learning practices, develop clearing degree pathways and maintain excellent connections to employers that offer good jobs, San Jacinto College is rapidly improving the success rates of its very diverse student body.”

San Jacinto College stands out as one of the nation’s top community colleges for many reasons, including:

  • A 33 percent increase in credentials awarded over the past five years.
  • Five years after graduating, San Jacinto College’s 2010 graduates earned 28 percent more than all other workers in the region.
  • Innovative practices dedicated to improving student learning, such as permanent department chairs working closely with faculty members to assess learning techniques and improve course completion which are factors in faculty performance reviews.
  • Development of clear pathways for every degree, aligned with local employer needs and projected job growth in health case, the petrochemical industry and other fields.

Community colleges today enroll about 40 percent of all U.S. undergraduates – 6 million students – who are working toward earning degrees and certificates. Improving student success across the more than 1,100 community colleges in the U.S. is critical to national efforts to develop talent and enable individual social mobility because:

  • Community colleges disproportionally enroll low-income and minority students enrolled in college today.
  • Community college graduation rates remain flat, with fewer than 40 percent of all entering students earning a degree and / or transferring to a four-year college or university.
  • A college degree today is more important than ever before. Recent researchshows that out of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5 million require a college education.

The 10 Aspen Prize finalists have achieved strong and improving student success rates in very different contexts – they are from rural and urban areas, serve demographically different student bodies, and offer a varied mix of technical workforce and academic transfer programs. These 10 institutions offer proof that every community college can achieve higher levels of success for students while in college and after they graduate.

The 2019 Aspen Prize Finalists (listed in alphabetical order):

·     Broward College – Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

o  2017 Finalist-with-Distinction

o  2013 Finalist

·     CUNY Kingsborough Community College – Brooklyn, New York

o  2013 Finalist-with-Distinction

·     Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, Florida

o  2017 Finalist-with-Distinction

o  2015 Finalist

·     Miami Dade College – Miami, Florida

o  2011 Finalist-with-Distinction

·     Mitchell Technical Institute – Mitchell, South Dakota

o  First Time Finalist

·     Odessa College – Odessa, Texas

o  2017 Rising Star Award (for rapid improvement)

·     Palo Alto College – San Antonio, Texas

o  First Time Finalist

·     Pasadena City College – Pasadena, California

o  2017 Finalist

·     Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom – Lakewood, Washington

o  First Time Finalist

·     San Jacinto College – Pasadena, Texas

o  2017 Rising Star Award (for rapid improvement)


During the remainder of 2018, the Aspen Institute will complete a rigorous review process that includes examination of data on learning, graduation, workforce, and equitable outcomes for all students as well as multi-day site visits to each of the 10 finalist institutions. In early 2019, a distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner, finalists-with-distinction, and a Rising Star.

The 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota. Previous Prize winners also include: Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Florida (2015); Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, California, and Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla, Washington (co-winners 2013); Valencia College, Orlando, Florida (2011). Former Prize winners are not eligible to reapply.

The 2019 Aspen Prize is generously funded by the Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Siemens Foundation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Siemens-Aspen Community College STEM Award, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. As a fiscally sound institution, the College currently holds bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. San Jacinto College is a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Rising Star Award recipient and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. Approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students each year benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers eight areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to four-year colleges or universities or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College call 281-998-6150, visit or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Originally Posted on

Leave a Comment