The Aspen Institute announced Tuesday that Pasadena City College (PCC) is one of 10 national finalists for the coveted Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence that is accompanied with $1 million in winnings.

According to its website, The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization with a mission to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.


The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is awarded every two years to community colleges that place high on a scoring criteria of degree completion, student success in the labor market, student learning outcomes, and equitability among African American, Hispanic, Latino, American Indian and low-income students.


“[PCC] is ranked number one in California in degrees awarded, in transfer rate, in graduation rate. Second in the nation and first in California in degrees awarded to Asians-Americans students,” said Superintendent President Rajen Vurdien to a room filled with thunderous applause. “This is what we call a successful institution, we at Pasadena City College need to be proud of what we have done.”


Representatives from The Aspen Institute will be visiting PCC on Sep. 27 through the 28 to tour the campus, interview faculty and analyse quantitative data. Written reports from the visit will be deliberated over by a Prize Jury of prominent elected, national business and civic leaders and former community college leaders.


“They want to look at some of our academic programs, our career technical education programs, they want to interview our students, they want to interview our teachers,” said Vice President of Student Services Cynthia Olivo. “I’m really thrilled, I have believed since the inception of the Aspen Prize For Community College Excellence that we deserve it because our students are extraordinary, our faculty are phenomenal, our staff are incredibly talented, so I’m thrilled that we are finally in the top ten.”
The winning community college will be announced in the early part of March 2017. When asked about PCC’s chances of winning, Vurdien said, with pride in his voice, “We will win.”

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