Victoria College ranks in top 10 percent

July 20, 2011 at 2:20 a.m.

As Victoria College gears up for the fall semester, I'd like to talk more about some recent news that demonstrates VC's dedication to helping students succeed. I was pleasantly surprised to learn back in April that Victoria College was selected as a candidate to compete for the Aspen Prize for Community Colleges.

Created by the Aspen Institute and announced in 2010 by President Obama at the White House Community College Summit, the Aspen Prize was created as a reward for community colleges with outstanding results in the academic achievement of its students. Particular attention was given to colleges that ensure the success of minority and first-generation students who most need higher education to get a foothold in the new economy. High graduate employment rates and improvements over time in both categories were also part of the selection criteria.

VC's selection came as a surprise because colleges that were selected did not apply for this competition. One hundred and twenty candidates were chosen from among 1,200 colleges in 32 states based on information that is publicly available.

VC's participation in this competition is indeed an honor. Inclusion in the initial selection places VC in the top 10 percent of all community colleges in the country.

Currently, VC is in the next phase of selection, which involves providing more student data and detailed information to the selection committee. Some of the most important data to be considered include the unique characteristics of VC, its students and the communities we serve. It will be from this second phase that eight finalists are selected.

We expect to hear which finalists are selected this fall. The winner will be announced at the end of the year, and $700,000 of the $1 million prize purse will be awarded as the top prize. Winning such a prize would certainly be a great honor for VC.

As a participant in this Aspen Prize competition, VC's contributions to student success could even go beyond serving students in the Crossroads area. Aspen will use data gathered from the winning colleges to serve as a model for community colleges throughout the nation. These contributions are vitally important because two-year colleges are recognized as the primary source of skills training for workers in many sectors of the economy.

I invite you to have a look at the special insert in today's newspaper, which details many of the ways VC ensures student success. Whether our students plan to transfer, obtain an associate degree, train for a new career or advance in their current career, VC's educational services are tailored to fit the needs of every student. Additionally, VC's staff and faculty work with students and provide support services and programs to make sure they reach their goals.

Making college affordable is also one of VC's top priorities. We recognize that paying for college is a critical issue for many students, which is why we're grateful that the VC Foundation and generous donors from the community establish and support scholarships. Today's insert also provides information about the Distinguished Scholar Award, a new $4,000 scholarship awarded to exceptional VC students. The insert features a short biography of each of the nine Distinguished Scholars selected this year.

Scholarships like the Distinguished Scholar Award and the annual "What's Your Story?" Scholarship can make all the difference in helping VC students complete their educational goals.

In turn, VC students are able to find good jobs and bring a more educated workforce to the Crossroads area.

On behalf of Victoria College, I would like to thank the community for all your support in making VC one of the top community colleges in the nation.

Tom Butler, Ph.D., is the president of Victoria College.



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