Courtesy Fernie Garcia
The Aspen Institute will award a $1 million prize to the highest ranked college in the evaluated areas.
Jesús A. Rodríguez
Among 1,200 community colleges that applied for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, El Paso Community College was announced to be one of the top 10 finalists nation-wide on Sept. 4.
“I think it’s a wonderful testament to the vision by the board of trustees, to the commitment and passion that the faculty, the staff and administrators have for facilitating student success,” said William Serrata, EPCC president. “I think that it’s also a distinction for the students that were very fortunate to serve.”
A $1 million prize will be awarded to the top one community college every two years by the Aspen Institute, which recognizes excellence in these: learning, degree completion, employment and earnings, and success for minority and low-income students.
EPCC and the other finalists will be examined by Aspen Institute’s experts and the top college will be awarded in March of 2015 in Washington D.C.
“I think it’s a real tribute to the region, not just the college, but the region,” Serrata said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the partnerships that we have, with the 12 school districts that we work with, with UTEP and other four-year universities that we work with, with the city, just everyone coming together and really focusing in what’s best for El Paso and to move this region forward.
“We’re honored that we have the namesake that we were selected as a top 10 community college, but we understand that this is recognition for the entire community.”
It is not the first time that EPCC has received an award. Back in 2004, the college was selected as a Round 1 Achieving the Dream Leader College among 27 in the nation.
In 2011, EPCC was named one of the 16 nation-wide finalists of the Examples of Excelencia recognition for the Early College High School initiative.
“There’s a long history of student success and awards at the college and I think that all of those led up to where we are,” Serrata said.
If EPCC wins the prize, Serrata would want the money to benefit students.
“The board of trustees ultimately would have to decide,” Serrata said. “My recommendation to the board of trustees is that we use that money and we establish scholarships for students.”