IRSC honored for excellence; named as one of top 10 finalists for Aspen prize

FORT PIERCE — Indian River State College (IRSC) was named on Tuesday, May 15, as a top-ten national finalist for the prestigious Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. This marks the third time IRSC has been selected as a top ten finalist. In 2017, the College advanced to the Aspen Prize Top 3 as a Finalist with Distinction.

“The selection of Indian River State College as a three-time Aspen Prize Top 10 Community College is a tremendous honor recognizing the exceptional commitment to student success and results achieved by our college’s faculty, staff and administration,” said Dr. Edwin R. Massey, IRSC President. “Advancing to the final round of this competition for the third consecutive time brings increased national attention to our college and community, and more importantly, validates our drive to continuously improve for our students. IRSC’s sustained excellence is a credit to our people — students, employees, and community partners — who strive every day to be the best college in America. This honor is truly theirs.”

IRSC was selected from more than 1,000 state and community colleges following a rigorous review of data, strategies and outcomes related to student learning, degree and certificate completion, high rates of graduate employment, earnings for graduates, and exceptional access and success for minority and low-income students.

“Congratulations to Indian River State College for being named as one of 10 finalists for the coveted 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence,” said Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega. “This outstanding recognition is a testament of the dedication and commitment to excellence of the college faculty, staff and students, as well as Florida’s collective priority on student success.”

“With the nearest alternatives at least 60 miles away, Indian River State College is the only public higher education option for many of its students, and it delivers what they need whether their immediate goal is workforce preparation or earning a bachelor’s degree,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program in Washington, D.C. “IRSC has achieved strong results by engaging in scaled reforms in multiple areas – from training everyone on customer service to ensuring that graduates have the skills they need for a job and have a clear map of the courses that they need to get to their chosen career. The college’s consistent drive to improve translates into what matters most: strong and improving levels of student success.”

According to the Aspen Institute, Indian River State College stands out as one of the nation’s top community colleges for many reasons, including:

• Impressive three-year graduation/transfer rates for all students (49 percent as compared to 40 percent nationally).

• IRSC offers 17 bachelor’s degrees in its world-class facilities, all aligned to high-demand jobs in the region.

• Exemplary work in developing clear programs of study that help students successfully complete classes and graduate, strengthened by intensive advising, progress tracking, and early interventions that keep students on track all the way to graduation.
Additional factors underscore IRSC’s commitment to student success:

• During the 2017-2018 academic year, IRSC’s graduating class—3,951 students—was the largest in the college’s 58-year history;

• Some 94 percent of IRSC graduates find employment or continue their education, typically earning more than twice the average entry wage in the four-county area; and

• IRSC is designated as the third Most Affordable College in the U.S. by the Department of Education, with no tuition increase in six years.

The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is awarded every two years. In April 2019, the $1 million prize purse will be awarded at an event in Washington, D.C., to the winner, two or three finalists-with-distinction, and a “Rising Star” that has achieved exceptional levels of improvement. The 2019 Aspen Prize is generously funded by the Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Siemens Foundation.

Three Florida colleges — Indian River State College, Broward College, and Miami Dade College — are among the 2019 finalists. The 2019 Aspen Prize Finalists, listed in alphabetical order are:

• Alamo Colleges District – Palo Alto College – San Antonio, Texas
• Broward College – Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
• CUNY Kingsborough Community College – Brooklyn, N.Y.
• Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, Fla.
• Miami Dade College – Miami, Fla.
• Mitchell Technical Institute – Mitchell, S.D.
• Odessa College – Odessa, Texas
• Pasadena City College – Pasadena, Calif.
• Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom – Lakewood, Wash.
• San Jacinto College – Pasadena, Texas

The Lake Okeechobee News is published every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and now includes news from around the lake every Wednesday.

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