College of the Desert earns Aspen nod

Renee Buckley

Front Page Editor 

Students at May graduation

Photo Courtesy of College of the Desert

150 community Colleges across the United States have been invited to apply for the $1 million Aspen Achievement award, and College of the Desert is one of them. The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is the highest achievement a 2 year college can achieve, and is fully based on student learning.

Dr. Annabelle Nery, Vice President of Student Success, stated in regards to first learning about the nomination, “We at the college were extremely excited and honored.  Many people along with many hours of work went into the College to make COD one of the best higher education institutions in the nation.” Though many have helped the institution rise to the level that we are at now, only about four to five people are on the Aspen team, meaning the are working tirelessly to advance us in hopes of the prize.

College of the Desert was picked from a pool of over 1,500 to be considered for the achievement, and been decided upon based on an evaluation of the past five years. Being nominated means that College of the Desert excels in learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students. The goal of the program recognizes and awards colleges who are exceeding expectations in student success.

The award originated in 2011 and is given every two years, meaning that we will not know if we have won until, spring 2019. The panel of judges review the high intensity applications the schools must send in and hopes of achieving a spot in the top ten finalists, announced in May 2018. The hopes of this award are to also start an initiative that brings colleges closer together to see what kind of programs are working best and are most beneficial for students looking to graduate.

President Joel Kinnamon, is confident in what we can achieve, stating, “As the fastest-growing community college in California with record-breaking numbers of students achieving certificates and degrees for the past three years, we are very proud of our students’ successes, our constant self-analysis, and our continuous improvement as an institution of quality higher education. As the Coachella Valley knows, we have a great story to tell and we can’t wait to share it nationally.”

The point of the award is to promote higher education, to make it more beneficial to increase students outcomes and a chance of higher success. The award is also to help incentivize schools to help lower income students have access to higher education. Just being invited to apply is a huge deal in terms of national recognition, but hopes are high that we will make it into the top ten, guaranteeing COD stands at the top of higher education and student success.

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