In September, the Aspen Institute announced that SBCC has been selected as one of the top ten community colleges in the nation and a finalist for the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program competition. This is high praise, indeed, as there are nearly 1,2000 accredited public community colleges in the nation, and SBCC was the only top 10 finalist selected from California
According to the Aspen Institute, this award is the first national recognition of extraordinary accomplishments at individual community colleges and follows on the April project launch and previous White House Community College Summit that attracted participation and endorsement from President Obama, as well as luminaries in American education, labor, business and civil society.
In responding to the Aspen criteria, SBCC was selected as a top ten finalist based on how much our students learn, how many complete their programs on times, and how well students do in the job market after graduating. In addition to delivering outstanding students results, the college uses data for both decision-making and for continuous improvement over time.
We are looking forward to an Aspen site visit this fall with the first-ever national winner and up to three runners-up announced in Washington, D.C. in December. The recipients will share a prize fund of $1 million.
Champions of Change
On September 21, I had the privilege of joining 14 other community college leaders from throughout the United States at the White House for the Champions of Change roundtable discussion. This weekly session is part of the Winning the Future initiative sponsored by President Obama’s Administration to advance the goal of having the best educated and most comprehensive work force in the world. Different groups are highlighted each week ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community activists.
Our group, which included a number of other representatives from the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program finalists, shared ideas and best practices for innovation and higher education in the community college field with senior leadership within the executive branch. I was very impressed with the creativity and caliber of work going on throughout our country to ensure that our collective community college graduates receive the best education possible to successfully find work in the competitive 21st century job market or transfer to a four-year college or university. I am proud to have been able to share what we have been doing at SBCC with this elite group and to have learned more about their strategies and activities.
In these challenging economic times, the ability to secure grants has never been more important in helping SBCC maintain its standards of excellence for the success of our students. The college recently received word that SBCC was awarded a $4 million federal Hispanic Serving Institution Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (HSI: STEM) grant awarded over five years. The focus of this grant is to increase the number of students in general, and low-income and Hispanic students in particular, who complete their transfer requirements in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) major and who continue their education at a four-year college or university in a STEM field of study. Students accepted into the Express to Transfer Program will be expected to complete their lower division transfer requirements in two years. The grant also will help us develop a comparable program for non-STEM majors.
This grant builds upon another $3 million grant that the college received last year to develop the Express to Success Program, an accelerated curriculum focusing on development of basic skills. This program is structured for student progression from basic skills to college-level courses to degree completion and transfer to four-year colleges and universities.
SBCC also will be partnering with California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) on a HIS:STEM grant it received that includes providing support for SBCC students pursuing a degree in a STEM-related major and continued additional services for those who transfer to CSUCI.
Tradition of Excellence
The tradition of excellence continues at SBCC and I am fortunate to have worked at such an outstanding college for the past 25 years. I appreciate the contributions that each member of the college community makes on a daily basis to help provide our students with such an exceptional and supportive environment in which to learn.