Pasadena City College was recognized today in Washington, D.C., as one of ten finalists for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s pre-eminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

“We hold ourselves to high standards of student success and equity,” said Rajen Vurdien, Ph.D., PCC’s superintendent-president. “We have made significant progress in addressing the persistent achievement gap we see our student population, particularly among African American and Latino students. The recognition we have received today is a strong endorsement of our work.

“Today, we are all proud to be Lancers,” he added.

The outstanding student outcomes that helped PCC earn its recognition include:

  • A graduation/transfer rate of 49%, well above the national average of 39%.
  • A 52% bachelor's degree attainment rate among Pasadena graduates who transfer to a four-year university, compared to 42% nationally.

"Pasadena City College serves a large and incredibly diverse suburban district of the Los Angeles metro region, and is a destination for students who want to transfer to a four-year institution,” said Joshua Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “The college has a strong, demonstrated commitment to making sure all students succeed both while in college and in promising careers after they graduate. This commitment to equity, exceptional faculty engagement, as well as smart investments in classroom innovations have improved learning and retention for all students and maintained Pasadena City College’s strong reputation for student success.”

PCC was selected from 1,000 public community colleges nationwide. The $1 million Aspen Prize recognizes institutions for their outstanding outcomes in four areas: student learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

The Prize has been awarded every two years since 2011 by the Aspen Institute, a Washington, DC-based educational and policy studies organization which recognizes outstanding community colleges through a rigorous review process.

The 2017 Aspen Prize winner, South Dakota’s Lake Area Technical Institute, will receive $600,000 in prize funds. Finalists-with-Distinction and institutions recognized with the “Rising Star” award for rapid improvement in student completion will all receive $100,000 prizes.

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