Aspen Institute names SKYCTC a Top 150 U.S. Community College eligible for 2021 Aspen Prize
By Brooke McDonald, The Aspen Institute

Posted on November 6, 2019 7:28 PM

The Aspen Institute has named Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKYCTC) as one of 150 community colleges eligible for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges. The college was selected based on strong and improving student outcomes, including learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity.

SKYCTC is among the top 15 percent of community colleges nationwide which have been invited to apply for the $1 million Aspen Prize.

“Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College is honored to be selected by the Aspen Institute as one of the nation’s top-performing community colleges,” says Dr. Phillip Neal, President and CEO of SKYCTC. “Our focus on student success is deeply personal to SKYCTC: it is embedded in our college culture and central to our future.

“Simply put, the foundation behind increasing student success is caring! We care about our students because they are our future, in every aspect of life. We care about the communities we serve, which keeps our program offerings responsive to economic development. We care about the work we do because we know it makes a difference in improving the quality of life for thousands of Kentuckians every year. We are pleased that the Aspen Institute has recognized SKYCTC’s student success efforts with the Top 150 U.S. Community College designation.”

The 150 community colleges named this week as eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes. Located in 39 states in urban, rural, and suburban areas, serving as few as 500 students and as many as 75,000 students, these colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector.

Data show that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates, and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible colleges.

“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” says Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students—through graduation and beyond.”

The top ten finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished jury will make award decisions in spring 2021.

Previous winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence are: Miami Dade College (FL) and Indian River State College (FL), 2019; Lake Area Technical College (SD), 2017; Santa Fe College (FL), 2015; Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA), 2013; Valencia College (FL), 2011.

For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit

The Aspen Prize is generously funded by ECMC Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit and and follow @AspenHigherEd on Twitter.

The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Col., and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

The mission of Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKYCTC) is to improve the quality of life through education focused on career development, community partnerships, and economic growth. Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College is one of 16 colleges that comprise the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). SKYCTC has six campuses located in Bowling Green, Glasgow, and Franklin. Connect with SKYCTC at | | Twitter @SKYCTC



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