2020 Achieving the Dream (ATD) Leader College of Distinction

Achieving the Dream (ATD) announced that Brazosport College has earned Leader College of Distinction status for achieving new, higher student outcomes and narrowing equity gaps.

Brazosport College is one of 10 community colleges across the nation in the ATD Network to earn this prestigious status.

“We are honored to have been named a Leader College of Distinction,” said Brazosport College President Emeritus Dr. Millicent Valek. “Our work to improve student outcomes has involved the entire college community. Our satisfaction comes from seeing more and more of our students reach their educational goals and, in turn, improve their quality of life.”

ATD created the Leader College of Distinction award in 2018 to recognize colleges that have continued striving to meet challenging student success goals, often earning Leader College status several times.

“Accelerating improvement in student success outcomes is difficult work and requires a sustained commitment from the entire college community. Small but national recognitions like this one are important for affirming and applauding the often unsung and behind the scenes work of these institutions,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream.

Brazosport College has been active in Achieving the Dream since 2006 and an ATD Leader College since 2010.

“Brazosport College is pleased to be recognized as a Leader College of Distinction especially because it signifies sustained achievement over multiple years,” said Dr. Douglas Walcerz, Brazosport College Interim Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. “This is only possible because our vision for student success is shared in every office and classroom on campus and is supported by close partnerships with our Independent School Districts, and the business and industry partners who support our programs and hire our graduates. We are grateful to this community for its support, and we want everyone to share in the pride that comes from this recognition.”

Leader Colleges of Distinction must show improvement in three measures, including a lagging indicator like such as completion, while Leader Colleges must show improvement in two student outcome measures. Leader Colleges of Distinction also are required to show they have shrunk performance discrepancies in at least two metrics between groups disaggregated by gender, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. The metrics that applicants for the Leader College of Distinction honor are required to select from include:

  • Completion of gateway math and/or English in Year 1;
  • Persistence from Year 1 to Year 2 (fall-to-fall retention);
  • Courses attempted/completed with a C-minus or higher grade within one year of initial enrollment;
  • Completion of a certificate or degree within four years of initial enrollment; and
  • Transfer to a four-year institution and achievement of a baccalaureate degree within six years of initial enrollment.

Only colleges that have been Leader Colleges for three or more years were eligible to apply for this status. ATD anticipates that earning the new honor will position colleges to be successful in competing for Achieving the Dream’s Leah Meyer Austin Award. In addition, the increased visibility should help accelerate the adoption of effective practices across the Network institutions and the community college field as a whole.

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of 277 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia. 

For more information about Achieving the Dream, visit achievingthedream.org.

2015 Aspen Prize

Brazosport College was named as one of 10 finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

This is the second straight time Brazosport College has been a finalist for the biennial award. The college was a finalist for the 2013 award.

“This is an honor for the students, faculty and staff here at Brazosport College,” said BC President Emeritus Millicent Valek. “This is a testament that all of the initiatives we have in place to assist students in achieving their educational goals are making a difference. The entire faculty and staff here at Brazosport College join in on this celebration of student success.”

Brazosport College now enters the final stage of the competition for the $1 million Prize for Excellence that will be awarded in March 2015 in Washington, D.C. to the winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction.

“Brazosport College works incredibly hard to ensure that its students are successful, complete their degrees and land good, high-paying jobs after graduation,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program in Washington, D.C. “What is so striking about this college is its effectiveness in ensuring equitable outcomes, reflected in its work with under-prepared students, and in forging close partnerships with local industry. Brazosport College’s students, employer partners, and entire community, benefit from the strategic and focused work of this excellent institution.”

Brazosport College is one of two Texas schools listed among the 10 finalists, with El Paso Community College also earning top 10 recognition. Texas also is one of three states in the country with more than one Prize finalist.

Brazosport College at a Glance

  • 6,392 students
  • 39.5% minority
  • $61,094 median family income
  • 20.1% of undergraduates received Pell Grants

A few reasons Brazosport College stands out as one of the nation’s top community colleges include:

  • An exceptionally high student retention rate from first to second year (84%)
  • Consistent, significant improvements in the number of students who earn certificates, degrees and/or transfer to four-year colleges
  • Strong relationship with industry, especially the petrochemical industry, which relies on Brazosport to help train workers in programs that result in employment in high-paying jobs for graduates
  • Model first-semester program to teach all under-prepared students the core skills they need to succeed in college

About the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

The Aspen Prize, awarded every two years, recognizes outstanding institutions selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges. With a singular focus on student success, the Prize assesses community colleges’ achievements in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, high rates of employment and earnings for graduates, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

The success of our nation’s community colleges is more important than ever before. Nearly half of all college students attend community college, with more than seven million students—youth and adult learners — working toward degrees and certificates. This includes rapidly growing numbers of lower-income and minority students.

The federal government is increasingly looking to community colleges to help educate and transform our nation’s workforce and grow the country’s middle class. And constrained family budgets and mounting student debt—which recently surpassed $1 trillion nationally — will only serve to increase the appeal of community colleges. With average tuition of about $3,000 per year per student — less than half the average at public four-year colleges and less than 10 percent of what is now charged by top private four-year colleges and universities — community colleges offer a uniquely affordable path straight to a job or an on-ramp to a bachelor’s degree.

The Selection Process

Aspen’s Finalist Selection Committee, comprised of former community college presidents, respected researchers and policy experts, selected the 10 finalist institutions after reviewing extensive data on performance and improvements in learning, graduation, workforce outcomes and equitable outcomes for all students, especially those in traditionally underserved racial/ethnic groups — African American, Hispanic/Latino and Native American — and those from low-income backgrounds. Of the 150 institutions named eligible in January, more than 100 applied to compete for the Prize.

This fall, the Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to each of the 10 finalist institutions. Following a rigorous review process, a distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction to be announced in March 2015. To learn more about the selection process, go to: www.aspeninstitute.org.

The 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to Santa Barbara City College (California) and Walla Walla Community College (Washington). In 2011, Valencia College (Florida) was the inaugural Prize winner. According to the Prize rules, former winners were not eligible to reapply for this cycle.

The Aspen Prize finalists selected today reflect the diversity and richness of American community colleges — from the large El Paso Community College in El Paso, Texas, with a majority Latino student body of 40,000, to the small-town Lake Area Technical College in Watertown, South Dakota with 1,700 students, to the urban, ethnically diverse Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, part of the City University of New York and located in the South Bronx, the nation’s poorest congressional district.

The 2015 Aspen Prize Finalists (listed in alphabetical order):

Two colleges have been named finalists in three consecutive Prize cycles (indicated with *) and two others were finalists for a second time (indicated with #)

  • Brazosport College - Lake Jackson, TX#
  • El Paso Community College – El Paso, TX
  • Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, CUNY – Bronx, NY
  • Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, FL
  • Kennedy-King College – Chicago, IL
  • Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD*
  • Olympic College – Bremerton, WA
  • Renton Technical College – Renton, WA
  • Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL#
  • West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, KY*

Brazosport College is located in Lake Jackson, Texas, and offers a broad range of courses and classes to address diverse educational objectives. Students planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree can enroll in academic classes, as well as courses in major fields of study, which will transfer to four-year schools. Recognized twice by the Aspen Institute as one of the nation’s top 10 community colleges, Brazosport College also offers more than 20 certificate programs and is one of three schools in Texas to offer a Bachelor Degree in Applied Technology. For more information about Brazosport College, visit www.brazosport.edu.

The Aspen Prize is funded by Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and Lumina Foundation.

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the New College Leadership Project, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visitwww.aspeninstitute.org/college-excellence.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.