Walla Walla Community College in Washington state and Santa Barbara City College in California were awarded the prestigious Aspen Prize for 2013 for success in attracting, retaining and graduating students into jobs and four-year universities. Each school won $400,000. Two other top colleges — Kingsborough Community College in New York and Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, S.D. — each received $100,000 as finalists with distinction.
Walla Walla was chosen for its skills at following economic trends and training students to work in emerging job markets. Santa Barbara was picked for its success at attracting and graduating students from low-income or minority families and sending them on to graduate from four-year schools at impressive rates.
“These colleges, by really paying close attention to what comes next, are aligning what they do to that kind of success,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s college excellence program, which awards the prize.
The four schools were among 10 chosen from more than 1,000. The other finalists were: Brazoport College in Lake Jackson, Texas; Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; College of the Ouachitas in Malvern, Ariz.; Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla.; Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Cumberland, Ky., and West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, Ky.