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WKCTC Named One of Top 10 Community Colleges

West Kentucky Community and Technical College has been named one of the ten finalist community colleges by the Aspen Institutes College Excellence Program. This 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.

West Kentucky Community and Technical College works hard to make sure that students learn and are prepared for the workforce, and it shows, said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institutes College Excellence Program. The number of students who have completed their programs is climbing. Paducah and the whole state have something to be proud of in West Kentucky Community and Technical College.

WKCTC increased the number of students completing its programs by 23% over a recent five-year period, a significant achievement and the biggest improvement out of the top ten community colleges recognized today by the Aspen Institute. WKCTC makes concerted efforts to continually improve student success, using information on student learning and completion to improve the ways programs are taught and structured. For example, the college provides advising to help students select a major because students with a declared major are more likely to finish. By focusing on whats working and fixing what isnt, WKCTC is helping more of its students earn the degrees and certificates that lead to jobs and economic stability.

In the end, West Kentucky delivers something the rest of the country can learn from, Wyner said, which is prepared students who have the skills to be successful in the workforce and in life.

WKCTC President Barbara Veazey said recognition by the Aspen Institute is a tremendous honor not only for the college but for region and state. To me it means two things: First the commitment that the community has made over the years in both money and time - that commitment has been well placed. For our students it says that they are going to a college that provides an excellent education and we have the support services to help them be a success both on campus and after they graduate.

Nearly half of all college students attend community college, with more than six million students youth and adult learners enrolling in Americas nearly 1,200 community colleges every year. Community colleges are also educating rapidly growing lower-income and Hispanic student populations, and for millions of Americans, represent their most promising path to education that leads to professional employment.

The ten community colleges selected to be finalists today reflect the diversity of America from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to Floridas Miami Dade College, the largest institution in American higher education, with nearly 100,000 students, and from Walla Walla Community College in Washington to Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota. Other top ten schools, besides WKCTC, include Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan; Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar, Iowa; Santa Barbara City College in Santa Barbara, California; Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde, Texas; and Valencia College in Orlando, Florida.

The ten finalists named today from the 120 were selected by a nine-member Finalist Selection Committee, comprised of former community college presidents, respected researchers and policy experts. They identified institutions that deliver exceptional and improving completion rates, and labor-market and learning outcomes, following a review of new data collected from applications submitted by eligible institutions in June.

WKCTC now enters the last stage of the competition for the $1 million prize fund that will be awarded in December in Washington, D.C. to the first-ever national winner and up to three runners-up. The grand prize winner and runners-up will be selected by a prize jury co-chaired by John Engler, former Michigan Governor and current President of the Business Roundtable, and Richard Riley, former Secretary of Education and Governor of South Carolina.

Aspens Wyner emphasized that this competition offers an unprecedented opportunity to spotlight and celebrate excellence at a time when community college success is more important to the nation than ever before. Its pretty simple, but the stakes are high, he said. In an era where a college degree is the ticket to the middle class, real educational opportunity for our citizens and real economic growth for our country will depend on our community colleges.

Aspen Media Kit