January 23, 2014


Related linksNACC has ranked
high in other nationwide ratings:

#15 in student success according
to CNN/Money

#20 according to The Best Schools

News Release from

The Aspen Institute
One DuPont Circle, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

Northeast Alabama Community College Named as One of the Top 150 in the Country

Nation’s Signature Recognition of Excellence, Chosen from Over 1,000 Community Colleges Which Serve Nearly Half of All Undergraduates in US

Washington, DC, January 23, 2014Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in America’s community colleges, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today named Northeast Alabama Community College as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million dollars in prize funds.

The Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

The Aspen Institute identified the top 150 community colleges through an assessment of institutional performance, improvement, and equity on student retention and completion measures. Together, the 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the Prize represent the diversity and richness of the entire sector:

• They are located in 37 states across the nation;
• They represent urban, rural, and suburban markets; and
• They encompass big community colleges and small community colleges—from Miami Dade College in Florida serving over 100,000 students to Carver Career Center in West Virginia serving fewer than 500 students.

A full list of the 150 community colleges is available at Prize winners will be announced in early 2015.

“We at Northeast are honored to be selected for this recognition,” stated Dr. David Campbell, NACC President. “Our faculty, staff, and administrators do what is most important in community college education and this is working with and supporting students and giving them every opportunity to succeed. I am very proud of our faculty, staff, and students for this.” Campbell noted that the college has received this recognition from the Aspen Institute before. “That we are a repeat selection says a lot about the college,” Campbell stated. “It says that our personnel and students have institutionalized the pursuit of excellence as a standard.”

Immediately upon learning of the honor, the college put together a Committee to prepare and submit the application for the final Aspen Prize. The Committee consists of Dr. Joe Burke, chair, Dean Tonie Niblett, Dr. Mike Kennamer, Mrs. Lynde Mann, Mrs. Shirley Buttram, Mr. Brad Fricks, Mr. Byron Miller, and Mrs. Sherry Whitten. “Putting our application together will be a campus-wide effort,” Campbell stated. “This Committee will spearhead that work. Just pursuing this prize will make us better as an institution.” Campbell noted that one other Alabama community college was named to the top 150 list, Calhoun Community College.

Nearly half of America’s college students attend community college, with more than seven million students—youth and adult learners—working towards certificates and degrees in these institutions across the country.

“Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation’s economic strength and the potential for social mobility for every American” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “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. We hope it will raise the bar and provide a roadmap for community colleges nationwide.”

Northeast Alabama Community College and 149 other community colleges announced today were selected from a national pool of over 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes. The formula used to select the colleges was devised by expert analysts at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems in consultation with an expert advisory committee convened by the Aspen Institute. The data focus on student retention and completion, considered from three perspectives:

• Performance (retention, graduation rates including transfers, and degrees and certificates per 100 “full-time equivalent” students)
• Improvement (awarded for steady improvement in each performance metric over time)
• Equity (evidence of strong completion outcomes for minority and low-income students)

To ensure full representation of the range and diversity of the sector, adjustments were applied with respect to mission, size, and minority representation.

NACC has been invited to submit an application containing detailed data on degree/certificate completion (including progress and transfer rates), labor market outcomes (employment and earnings), and student learning outcomes. It must demonstrate that it delivers exceptional student results for all students—including those from racial minority and/or low-income backgrounds—and also use data to inform decisions and continually improve over time.

Ten finalists will be named in fall 2014. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data from states and transfer data from the National Student Clearinghouse. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2015.

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

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to identify and replicate practices and policies that significantly improve college 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’ and policy-makers’ understanding of what is needed to teach and graduate post-secondary students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit

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

Contact: Leigh Arsenault
Program Manager, Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

For Information about NACC, visit the college’s web page at or download the college’s free App at the Apple App Store or by going to

Northeast personnel discuss the Aspen Institute prize nomination, which places the college among the 150 best in the nation. Northeast has received this recognition every year of the Aspen competition.