Broward College Eligible for Aspen Prize Once Again

Michael Gennaro

North Bureau Chief


Broward College is on a short list of community colleges that are eligible for the Aspen Prize in 2021.

The Aspen Prize is a $1 million award given out by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program every two years to the top community college in the nation.

The award recognizes community colleges that epitomize excellence in several areas, including student learning, degree completion, employment and earnings and accessibility services for students of color and low-income students.

This is the fourth time that Broward College will be considered for the $1 million award.

At first, 1,000 colleges are eligible for the prize. This field is then narrowed to 150, then to 10 colleges. Finally, the winner is announced. The top ten finalists will be revealed in May of 2020, with the winner being revealed in spring of 2021. Broward College has finished in the top ten three times, including 2019.

In a press release, Dr. Marielena DeSanctis, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Services, said, “Our eligibility for this preeminent award from a pool of almost 1,000 colleges is the result of a review of our student learning outcomes, but most importantly, it recognizes the achievement of our collective commitment and dedication to our students and service to this community.”

Data from the last two years shows that degree completion and graduation rates have improved among the colleges in the top 150.



Aspen Institute prize banner on South Campus. Michelle Castano/The Observer   


In a press release, Broward College President Gregory Haile said, “Broward College is proud to have earned a top ten finalist ranking by Aspen three times since the prize was launched. In our continual push for excellence, we are also honored to be selected to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize. Being selected from almost 1,000 state or community colleges in the nation recognizes the relentless commitment to student success found in our faculty, staff and many community partners.”

If Broward College is selected to the top 10 once again, the Aspen Institute will conduct a site visit to BC to collect data which will be given to a jury to make the award decision.

With university tuition skyrocketing and student load debt reaching $1.41 trillion overall in the year 2019, an all-time high, community colleges have taken on even more importance. Prospective students from low-income backgrounds and minority groups face a tremendous burden of entry for most traditional four-year universities. Affordable community colleges with excellent academic performance are the best chance for disadvantaged students to get a foot in the door and advance to higher income levels and the middle class.

Josh Wyner, executive president of the Aspen Institute College Excellency Program, said that “Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do. We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise.”

The Aspen Prize has been awarded close to home before, with Miami Dade College taking home the prize in 2019, along with Indian River State College in Okeechobee. Broward College was categorized as a finalist with distinction in 2017 by the Aspen Institute.

The fourth time could be the charm for Broward College, looking to take home the award for the first time in 2021.