Moorpark College is the running for a $1 million prize that recognizes outstanding community colleges from across the nation

After multiple rounds of vetting community colleges nationwide, Moorpark College has been named to the elite group of top 10 finalists for the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Aspen Institute announced today. Started in 2010, the $1 million Aspen Prize is the nation’s signature recognition of community colleges that are achieving high, improving, and equitable outcomes for students.

The Aspen Institute worked with an expert data panel to craft a formula to assess student outcomes at nearly 1,000 community colleges in key areas such as retention, completion, transfer, and equity. Based on those data, 150 top community colleges were invited to apply; 109 applications were received.

Moorpark College was named among 25 semifinalists in April. This is the college’s first time as a finalist, and it is one of only two community colleges in California to attain this distinguished level.

“Moorpark College is proud to be recognized among the best 10 community colleges in the nation,” said Dr. Julius Sokenu, president of Moorpark College. “We put students first by honoring and motivating their dreams for career success, academic engagement and personal growth. Our faculty, staff and administrators are intentional in nurturing those dreams in a safe and inclusive environment with high expectations and high support.” 

“In fall 2021, Moorpark College, Oxnard College and Ventura College were named among 150 institutions nationwide eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. With each level Moorpark College advances, we continue to be extremely proud of the campus’s dedicated faculty, classified staff and students who have made this recognition possible,” said Greg Gillespie, Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District. “We eagerly await the exciting news in late spring next year of the Aspen Prize winner announcement.”

Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize honors colleges that show outstanding performance in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

“We’re grateful to all the experts who have helped Aspen identify these impressive colleges,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We can’t wait to dive in to learn more about how they have achieved these measurable student outcomes so we can share what we learn with the field.”

The list of 10 community colleges named finalists is available at Aspen Prize Finalists.

Next steps in the Aspen Prize selection process include the following:

  • Fall 2022: Additional data gathered on student outcomes, including employment after college, and multi-day site visits to each of the 10 finalists to gather insights about effective practices.
  • Winter 2023: A distinguished jury will decide the Aspen Prize winner based on quantitative data and qualitative information from each of the finalists.
  • Late spring 2023: Aspen Prize winner is announced.

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