IMPERIAL – Imperial Valley College is one of 150 community colleges nationwide that have been nominated for the Aspen Prize for Community College excellence, the nationâ€™s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance for Americaâ€™s community colleges.
The $1.1 million Aspen Prize, awarded every two years, recognizes institutions for outstanding 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 award is given by the Aspen Institute, 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. IVC was nominated from among 1,123 public community colleges around the country.
â€œIVCâ€™s commitment to caring for students on an individual level is not just lip service. The college is seeing results in the form of increased completion, particularly over the past four academic years,â€ according to an article posted on the American Association of Community Colleges website that discussed the Aspen nominees.
The number of degrees and certificates awarded at IVC has increased by 38 percent since the 2012-13 academic year.
â€œAnd we are looking for large numbers again this year,â€ said IVC Superintendent/President Victor Jaime. â€œWhether we win the top award or not, it is very gratifying for our staff and students to even be nominated for this award.â€Â The college also was a nominee for the 2015 Aspen Prize.
â€œItâ€™s not because our enrollment has changed,â€ Jaime told the AACC, â€œbut more of those enrolled are completing in a much quicker pace and more successfully.â€
The AACC article notes several areas where IVC is excelling.
- The college has a proactive local recruitment effort in all eight feeder high schools that annually attracts about 60 percent of high school graduates to IVC;
- There are excellent student support systems in place to prepare students both academically and emotionally to either enter the workforce or transfer to a four year institution. â€œThe partnership between our teaching and nonteaching faculty looks at the whole student and provides an opportunity for intervention early on,â€ said Jaime.
- IVC has developed partnerships with four-year institutions including San Diego State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. IVC also is the first community college in the country to establish a partnership with a university in Mexico: CETYS University in Mexicali.
The article notes that Imperial County has the highest percentage of English-Language learners in the State of California with more than 40 percent of K-12 students in the county who are not proficient in English.
â€œAs the countyâ€™s only community college, Imperial Valley College serves a population with significant disadvantages with exceptional results,â€ it states.