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Clark in top 150 U.S. community colleges

It’s 1 of 9 schools in state in running for $1 million prize

By , Columbian Education Reporter
Published: January 28, 2016, 8:13pm

Clark College has been named among the nation’s 150 best community colleges by the Aspen Institute. It is one of nine community and technical colleges in Washington in the running for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

“Aspen is top of the line. It’s the standard bearer for success for community colleges,” said Clark College President Bob Knight. “The fact that we’ve been measured against our peers and made it to the top 150 makes me really proud. This recognition validates the hard work our employees are doing on behalf of our students.”

The other Washington colleges on the list are Everett Community College in Everett; Highline College in Des Moines; Olympic College in Bremerton; Pierce College Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood; Renton Technical College in Renton; South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia; Tacoma Community College in Tacoma; and Whatcom Community College in Bellingham. No Oregon colleges made the list.

The nonprofit Aspen Institute selected the 150 colleges from a pool of more than 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide. In selecting the colleges, the institute analyzed performance data in student learning, certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

In the second round of the competition, colleges may submit applications explaining how well their students learn, complete degrees and get jobs with competitive wages after graduating. Ten finalists will be named in the fall.

The top 150 colleges are eligible to compete for a $1 million prize, which will be announced early next year.

“A million dollars would be much needed and much appreciated,” Knight said.

Due to recent enrollment declines, Clark College is cutting about $2.2 million from its budget. Clark College’s student enrollment for fall 2015 was 5.6 percent lower than the previous fall. Lower enrollment is a common result of an improving economy.

Clark is reducing eight degree departments for students planning to transfer to four-year colleges; reducing four career and technical education programs; eliminating all courses in six transfer degree departments; and eliminating five career and technical education programs.