Extraordinary Results Draw National Spotlight to Valencia

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It is my great honor to share with you that Valencia has been named a finalist for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The $1 million Aspen Prize program is in its inaugural year and recognizes significant improvements in graduation rates and academic achievement. This kind of validation of our work from an organization as prestigious as the Aspen Institute means a great deal, and as a result of this recognition, I have been invited to the White House on September 21st to brief senior policy officials on Valencia’s innovative learning-centered strategies.

For those of you who attended Academic Assembly, you may remember my reference to a secret, a secret that I likened to making it to the Final Four in the NCAA basketball tournament, or being nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Well, for community colleges, this is it.

The Aspen Prize calls attention to the fact that quality in higher education isn’t necessarily correlated to exclusivity or high tuition costs. Valencia is one of the most affordable higher education institutions in America, and is also producing some of the best results, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff.

Valencia’s work over the last 15 years in improving college graduation rates, raising achievement for minorities, meeting the needs of business and industry, and building innovative partnerships like DirectConnect to UCF are among the reasons Valencia was selected. Our fundamental belief that “anyone can learn anything given the right circumstances” is transforming Valencia and drawing attention nationally.

Only ten colleges from around the nation are finalists for the Aspen Prize out of the 1,200 community colleges that were invited to participate. Only one other college in Florida, Miami Dade College, is on the list. The winner will be announced in early December.

Thank you for being a champion of this great college and for all that you’ve done to make this recognition possible.

To read more about the Aspen Prize and why Valencia was chosen as a finalist, check out the media kit on Valencia’s News site.

Today’s editorial in the Orlando Sentinel and the related article about Valencia’s Aspen Prize nomination are below.

http://orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-valencia-college-honored-091311-20110912,0,3082221.story

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/os-valencia-college-award-finalist-20110912,0,4481725.story

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