McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 29, 2014

NOC one of nation’s top community colleges

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Northern Oklahoma College once again has been selected by the Aspen Institute as one of the nation’s top community colleges.

The Washington-based Aspen Institute’s list of the top 150 community colleges includes NOC as the only Oklahoma entry. NOC is no stranger to the Aspen list, having been included among the top 120 colleges in 2011 and 2013.

Being named to the list qualifies NOC to contend for the 2015 Aspen Prize.

“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,” Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, wrote in a letter to NOC President Cheryl Evans.

“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,” Wyner wrote.

The top 150 community colleges are selected by an expert panel, judging them on assessment of institutional performance, improvement, student retention and completion.

“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,” Wyner said. “We hope it will raise the bar and provide a roadmap for community colleges nationwide.”

Finalists for the prize will be named in the fall. The Aspen Institute then will conduct site visits and collect additional information.

A prize jury will choose the 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,” Evans said. “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.”