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Aspen Institute names NOC as one of the nation’s best community colleges


Aspen LogoThe Washington based Aspen Institute announced that Northern Oklahoma College (NOC) has been selected as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation and the only one in Oklahoma. Northern was included in the top 120 in the two previous Aspen recognition of excellence programs in 2011 and 2013.

In the letter informing NOC President Dr. Cheryl Evans that NOC made the top 150 list, Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, wrote, “Congratulations on being selected as one of 150 community colleges nationwide determined eligible to apply for the third $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

“The Prize, awarded every two years, has brought a new level of public attention to community colleges, established new measures of excellence in outcomes for community college students, and uncovered practices that Aspen is disseminating to help community colleges improve outcomes for their students.”

In round one of the Aspen program competition process, the top 150 community colleges, out of 1,005 potential candidates, selected by an expert panel are identified through an assessment of institutional performance, improvement, and equity on student retention and completion measures.

When Warner announced the top 150, he said, “Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation’s economic strength and the potential for social mobility for every American. This competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs after college. We hope it will raise the bar and provide a roadmap for community colleges nationwide.

“Northern and 149 other community colleges are now eligible to submit an application containing detailed data on degree/certificate completion (including progress and transfer rates), labor market outcomes (employment and earnings), and student learning outcomes; round two in the process. They must demonstrate that they deliver exceptional student results for all students – including those from racial minority and/or low-income backgrounds – and also use data to inform decisions and continually improve over time.

Ten finalists will be named in fall 2014. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data from states and transfer data from the National Student Clearinghouse; round three.

A prize jury will select a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2015 who will share $1 million dollars in prize awards.

“I am very proud that Northern has once again been selected as one of the top community colleges in the nation by Aspen and I believe that this is external validation of the dedication of our faculty and staff members who work every day to create life changing learning experiences for NOC students. It also shows that our students are working hard to achieve their educational goals.  I’m especially excited that the criteria evaluated is similar to Oklahoma’s Complete College America goals, NOC’s Higher Learning Quality Initiative and Northern’s strategic plan goals.  This recognition tells us that our planning efforts are on the right track. We have a great team who will be completing the application for the next step in this process,”

Evans said.The top 150 list and more information about the Aspen Institute and the recognition of excellence program can be found at