WASHINGTON D.C. — An Indiana community college has been named as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation and could be eligible for the 2025 Aspen Prize award.

According to a news release, the Aspen Institute named the 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Vincennes University in Vincennes is the only Indiana institution to be included in the award process. 

The award is “the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among two-year colleges,” the release said. The institute honors institutions that show high and improving levels of student success, as well as equitable outcomes for all students.

“We have witnessed remarkable improvements in graduation rates, academic performance, and student satisfaction,” Chuck Johnson, the president of VU, said in a news release from the university. “This announcement by the Aspen Institute is a testament to the Board of Trustees’ commitment to the University’s ongoing pursuit of excellence in higher education and a recognition of the transformative impact our outstanding faculty and staff have on the lives of our students.” 

According to the release from the institute, 150 eligible colleges have been invited to submit student success data, as well as narratives about their strategies to achieve better and more equitable student outcomes. Out of the 150 eligible colleges, 25 semifinalists for the award will be announced next April.

“Our mission is to offer the highest quality instructional environment possible,” VU Provost Laura Treanor said in the release. “Our dedicated faculty and staff have a laser-sharp focus on creating environments that foster student growth, engagement, and achievement, and I am delighted that our work is being acknowledged with this prestigious recognition.”

Previous winners of the Aspen Prize include Amarillo College in Texas, Imperial Valley College in California and San Antonio College in Texas.

“The Aspen Prize is rooted first and foremost in an assessment of whether colleges are walking the walk,” Josh Wyner, the executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, said in the release. “As community colleges face enrollment variations, enroll students with pandemic-related learning loss, and graduate students into a rapidly changing labor market, it is easy to lose track of what matters most.  The best community colleges are continuing to focus on advancing the core mission: making sure as many students as possible graduate with credentials that lead to fulfilling careers and reflect the development of diverse talent that communities, states, and our nation need.”