Pierce College has been named a top finalist for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Ten finalists were selected from 1,000 community colleges across the country by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, which uses qualitative and quantitative data — analyzed by more than 30 experts — to identify community colleges that deserve recognition for high achievement in areas of teaching and learning, degree completion, success in workforce, and equitable outcomes for minority students.

“We’re very honored to be recognized again,” said Pierce College Chancellor Michele Johnson, Ph.D., referring to the institution’s recognition as a Rising Star for exceptional levels of improvement in 2019. “This motivates us even more in our movement toward the top prize to continue with our focus of centering equity and eliminating equity gaps between all of our students.”

All the finalists have identified and developed strategies that aim to result in all of their students both completing their degrees but also succeeding professionally. Joshua Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program, praised Pierce College for achieving “exceptional graduation and transfer rates for its students, while narrowing gaps for students of color.”

The Aspen Prize has been awarded every two years since 2011. For the rest of this year, national experts will work with the Aspen Institute to determine the ultimate winner of the award, which will be selected in early 2021 and announced at a May 2021 event in Washington, D.C. $1 million will then be allocated between the prize winner, finalists with distinction, and a rising star.