American Association of Community Colleges Honors Visionary Work of Community Colleges

SAN ANTONIO, April 21, 2015 — The nation’s community colleges are making great strides to increase completion rates. Seven community colleges were honored for their work toward the student success agenda on April 20 at the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Awards of Excellence Gala, part of AACC’s 95th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

This is the third year AACC has presented the Awards of Excellence.

In the category of Emerging Leadership, Montgomery College (Maryland), led by DeRionne Pollard, was named the winner. Through Pollard’s leadership, the college has a bold strategic plan, a new mission, innovative partnerships, and a new academic structure. The strategic plan, Montgomery College 2020, ensures that by 2020 the college will be a national leader in academic programming, in promoting and supporting economic development, and in fostering community building, civic responsibility, and intercultural understanding.

Bunker Hill Community College (Massachusetts) won in the Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership category. The innovative Learn and Earn paid internship program has allowed the college to partner with top employers to give students opportunities for valuable on-the-job training. The program promotes student accessibility, diversity, retention, and completion. Ninety percent of interns transfer to a four-year institution after earning their associate degree, and 40 percent extend their employment. The college is led by Pam Eddinger.

The Advancing Diversity category recognizes colleges that are dedicated to increasing diversity and advocating for social equity on their campuses and in the community. Moraine Valley Community College (MVCC) in Illinois serves 26 diverse communities, but strives to be an institution of inclusiveness that embraces all people. One of the college’s many initiatives is the Directing Results through Educational and Academic Mentoring (DREAM) program, which gets staff and faculty from all departments involved in mentoring students within the Multicultural Student Affairs department. MVCC is led by Sylvia Jenkins.

For Lee College in Texas, student success supports begin while students are still in high school. The Student Success to the Core initiative engages every level of the organization, as well as the community, to create a college-going culture and a successful student experience. The college, led by Dennis Brown, won in the Student Success category. Among the services offered, student mentors, career advising, and individualized case managers help students from the moment they connect with Lee College to graduation, and on to the workforce or transfer to a four-year institution.

In the Exemplary Board/CEO category, Eastern Gateway Community College (Ohio) was named the winner. President Laura Meeks and the college’s board of trustees are working to guarantee access, equity, and affordability for all students. This has led to increased student retention while maintaining a balanced budget, even while state funding has decreased and the college was experiencing a boom in enrollment.

The Faculty Senate of Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) won in the Faculty Innovation category. When area businesses voiced a concern that new employees did not understand or value a work ethic needed for organizational survival, they responded. The group worked with business partners to create and implement the Workplace Ethics Agreement. It requires that behaviors in every classroom mirror those expected in the workplace. Since it was implemented in 2011, the college-wide GPA has increased each year, and retention and persistence rates are up. SKCTC’s president is Phillip Neal.

In the new Community College Safety Planning and Leadership category, Brookhaven College (Texas) was named the winner. The college’s Campus Assessment, Response and Evaluation (CARE) Team is tasked with addressing safety protocols, behavioral intervention, preparedness and timely response. The team of qualified college professionals addresses students or staff who display mental, emotional or psychological behavior that might be disruptive, hurtful to themselves or others. The college has invested in the team with the leadership, infrastructure, and ongoing training that has resulted in 1,185 students and contacts receiving help. Brookhaven College is led by Thom Chesney.

Winners were selected by a committee of the AACC Board of Directors. Twenty-one finalist colleges also were recognized at the Awards of Excellence Gala.

As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivers educational and economic opportunity for 13 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s nearly 1,200 member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all.