Amarillo College shares Aspen Prize given to top community college in nation

This year Amarillo College and Imperial Valley College of California are sharing the top award and each receiving $500,000.
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 5:40 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 20, 2023 at 5:50 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - This year Amarillo College and Imperial Valley College of California are sharing the top award and each receiving $500,000.

According to The Aspen Institute, The Aspen prize goes to a community college that “achieves excellence in six critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, equitable access, and equitable outcome for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.”

The prize is given out every two years. In 2021, Amarillo College finished 5th and were hopeful to rank higher this year, and did.

“Well the Aspen Prize has been a goal of mine for as long as I’ve been on the board and to achieve it, is remarkable. It’s a testament to the strong leadership we have,” said Michele Fortunato, a board of regents member for Amarillo College.

The college says they find their success within their students.

“It feels good to be a part of something great, a campus that truly cares about their student’s success. Today, just goes to show that it’s working. Everything they provide for their students is paying off. I just can’t wait to see our college prosper from here,” said Jocelyn Baca, historian for Amarillo College Student Government.

The community was able to gather to livestream the special award ceremony held in Washington, DC. Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, President of Amarillo College was in attendance to accept the award.

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Lowery-Hart said the prize will be used for greater improvement. “We are not a perfect college, but a proud one. Love times learning equals success.”

To see a full video of Dr. Lowery-Hart’s acceptance speech, click here.

A community wide celebration of this remarkable honor will be held on Friday, May 5.