Odessa College | Aspen Prize 2019 Top 10 Community College!


Odessa College is proud to be an #AspenPrize Top 10 Community College!

This morning Odessa College Administration hosted a breakfast for several community leaders and dedicated supporters of the college. The group was invited to join OC faculty and staff in the special Coffee-and-Conversation event that followed, announcing for the first time that Odessa College has been selected as a Top Ten Finalist for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The Grand Prize winner of the Aspen Prize will be announced in April, 2019. Historically, the college which receives the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is acknowledged as the top community college in the United States. Odessa College was previously selected as an Aspen Rising Star Award winner in 2017, an achievement which placed OC in the top four community colleges in the nation. Official Press Release below.




$1 Million Prize Recognizes Excellence in Community College Student Success Outcomes; Winner to be Announced in April 2019

Washington, D.C., May 15, 2018 – Texas’ Odessa College was named today as one of 10 finalists for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges. (See complete list of finalists below.) Awarded every two years since 2011, the Prize recognizes institutions that achieve high and improving student outcomes, selected from over 1,000 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 transferringto a four-year institution;
  • Employment and earnings rates after graduation; and
  • Access for and success of minority and low-income students.

In April 2019, the $1 million Prize purse will be awarded at an event in Washington, D.C. to the winner, two or three finalists-with-distinction, and a “Rising Star” that has achieved exceptional levels of improvement. Between now and then, Aspen will work with a team of national experts to collect extensive, additional data and conduct multi-day site visits to the 10 finalist colleges.

Odessa College – Odessa, TX (7,500 Students)

“Since winning the Rising Star Award in 2017, Odessa leaders, faculty and staff have continued to demonstrate their deep dedication to improving student success,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program in Washington, D.C. “Odessa works on multiple fronts to strengthen students and the surrounding community, aligning program design, teaching practices, advising, and other structures to the goals of graduating more students with the skills needed for career success.”

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

  • Over five years, Odessa has more than doubled its three-year graduation/transferrates, from 15 percent to 37 percent.
  • Impressive labor market outcomes: Five years after graduating, Odessa’s 2010graduates earned more than double the wages of all other workers in the region.
  • Immensely effective classroom engagement techniques that have resulted in coursesuccess rates well over 90 percent.
  • Innovative eight-week semesters (compared to traditional 16-week semesters) thatallow students to focus and tailor their education to their busy schedules.

Community colleges today enroll about 40 percent of all U.S. undergraduates – six million students – who are working toward earning degrees and certificates. Improving student success across the more than 1,000 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 studentsenrolled in college today.
  • Community college graduation rates remain flat, with fewer than 40 percent of allentering students earning a degree and/or transferring to a four-year college oruniversity.
  • A college degree is today more important than ever before: Recent research showsthat out of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5 millionrequire 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):

Alamo Colleges District – Palo Alto College – San Antonio, TX

  • First time Finalist

Broward College – Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • 2017 Finalist-with-Distinction
  • 2013 Finalist

CUNY Kingsborough Community College – Brooklyn, NY

  • 2013 Finalist-with-Distinction

Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, FL

  • 2017 Finalist-with-Distinction
  • 2015 Finalist

Miami Dade College – Miami, FL

  • 2011 Finalist-with-Distinction

Mitchell Technical Institute – Mitchell, SD

  • First time Finalist

Odessa College – Odessa, TX

  • 2017 Rising Star Award (for rapid improvement)

Pasadena City College – Pasadena, CA

  • 2017 Finalist

Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom – Lakewood, WA

  • First time Finalist

San Jacinto College – Pasadena, TX

  • 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 http://highered.aspeninstitute.org/

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 www.aspeninstitute.org

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Contact: Caroline Broder


Contact: Cheri Dalton 432-335-6683│ cdalton@odessa.edu