ALEXANDRIA, La. (WNTZ) – The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, awarded biennially, is a coveted recognition that holds immense significance for educational institutions across the United States. Often referred to as “the Oscars for great community colleges” by former President Barack Obama, the Aspen Prize is the nation’s signature acknowledgment of exceptional performance and achievement among two-year colleges.

The Aspen Prize places a spotlight on community colleges that demonstrate exceptional success in six critical areas:

  1. Teaching and Learning: Recognizing the institutions that prioritize effective teaching and learning practices.
  2. Certificate and Degree Completion: Celebrating colleges that excel in helping students earn valuable credentials.
  3. Transfer and Bachelor’s Attainment: Acknowledging colleges that facilitate the smooth transition of students to four-year institutions and the attainment of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. Workforce Success: Honoring colleges that prepare students for successful careers in a rapidly evolving job market.
  5. Access: Recognizing institutions that ensure broad access to higher education.
  6. Equity for Students: Celebrating colleges that prioritize equitable outcomes for students of color and those from low-income backgrounds.

By focusing on student success and showcasing models of excellence, the Aspen Prize serves several crucial purposes. It celebrates outstanding achievements in community colleges, promotes a steadfast commitment to equitable student success, and encourages the dissemination of effective educational practices throughout the academic community.

The 2025 Aspen Prize cycle commenced in October 2023 when the Aspen Institute invited 150 community colleges to apply for this prestigious honor. These colleges were selected based on their strong and improving student outcomes in critical areas such as student retention, program completion, successful transfers, and equitable educational outcomes.

The Aspen Prize not only recognizes the extraordinary efforts of community colleges but also encourages other institutions to adopt and implement the most effective strategies for student success. It serves as a beacon for colleges to strive for excellence and prioritize equitable access to quality education.

For Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) and its Chancellor, Dr. Jimmy Sawtelle, being named one of the 150 eligible institutions for the 2025 Aspen Prize is a significant achievement. It signifies CLTCC’s ongoing commitment to providing exceptional education, fostering student success, and creating opportunities for diverse talent within the community. This recognition not only honors the institution but also serves as an inspiration for prospective students looking to embark on a journey toward higher education and fulfilling careers.

The Aspen Prize has the power to transform lives, strengthen local communities, and contribute to the nation’s prosperity by recognizing and celebrating the incredible potential of America’s community colleges as engines of social mobility and economic growth. As the top 150 eligible institutions vie for this esteemed award, the educational landscape in the United States stands to benefit from the knowledge, skills, and practices these colleges bring to the forefront, supporting the future success of students nationwide.