MCC named a Top 10 finalist for national prize

FLINT — Mott Community College was recently named as one of the 10 finalist community colleges by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. MCC, with a campus in Lapeer, now enters the last stage of the competition for the $1 million prize fund that will be awarded in December in Washington, D.C. to the first-ever national winner and up to three runnersup.

This is the first national recognition of extraordinary accomplishments at individual community colleges, and follows on the April project launch and previous White House Community College Summit that attracted participation and endorsement from President Obama, as well as luminaries in American education, labor, business and civil society.

“The story of Mott Community College is a story about the power of an educational institution to boost an entire community,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “The economic challenges facing the Flint community are well known. As things improve, MCC will deserve some of the credit for it, because this college is getting better and better in a very impressive fashion.”

MCC demonstrated strong improvement in the number of students that earned degrees and certificates over the past five years. To get there, the college created a rigorous system to measure results and identify opportunities for improvement, and test results show that student learning and completion rates have improved significantly.

The college effectively used information to make targeted investments to improve outcomes. In response to low pass rates in remedial math, for instance, the college designed a Math Empowerment Center and a new activity-based math program. This results-oriented approach has contributed to the college’s marked improvement in the number of degrees and credentials conferred over the last five years, even as enrollment rates have declined.

Nearly half of all college students attend community college, with more than six million students — youth and adult learners — enrolling in America’s nearly 1,200 community colleges every year. Community colleges are also educating rapidly growing lower-income and Hispanic student populations, and for millions of Americans, represent their most promising path to education that leads to professional employment.

The grand prize winner and runners-up will be selected by a “prize jury” co-chaired by John Engler, former Michigan Governor and current President of the Business Roundtable, and Richard Riley, former Secretary of Education and Governor of South Carolina.

Wyner emphasized that this competition offers an unprecedented opportunity to spotlight and celebrate excellence at a time when community college success is more important to the nation than ever before. “It’s pretty simple, but the stakes are high,” he said. — VIEW Staff

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