BMCC Is Named One of 10 National Finalists For $1 Million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

June 9, 2020

Washington, D.C., June 9, 2020 – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that Borough of Manhattan Community College is one of 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges.

The 10 Aspen Prize finalists were selected from the nation’s 1,000 community colleges in a process that included qualitative and quantitative data analysis and engaged more than 30 experts in the field. These finalists all effectively identify, develop, and scale strategies to propel all students to not just complete college but also succeed after graduation.

“Borough of Manhattan Community College has made great advances in putting its students on a strong path to graduation, transfer to a four-year institution, and ultimately a bachelor’s degree,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “To achieve those goals, the college offers its diverse student body a range of supports, including thoughtful advising structures, the opportunity to learn in close-knit cohorts, and maps of precisely what classes they need to obtain a degree and succeed after college.”

Awarded every two years since 2011, the Aspen Prize recognizes institutions that achieve strong student outcomes across four key areas:

  • Teaching and learning
  • Degree completion and successful transfer to four-year institutions
  • Success in the workforce
  • Equitable outcomes for diverse student groups

“The Aspen Prize finalists define what it means to be an excellent community college,” said Wyner. “By organizing everything they do around student success, these colleges stand at the forefront of national efforts to develop the talents of diverse students that we need to strengthen our nation’s economic future.”

“I want to thank the Aspen Institute for this honor, which is affirmation of our collective work to put student success at the forefront of all we do,” said Karrin E. Wilks, Interim President of Borough of Manhattan Community College. “We continue to deeply examine the factors affecting student learning and success, and we strive to take what works to scale.”

“We can be proud that student success rates have improved for all groups, and equity gaps have been reduced or eliminated,” Wilks added. “This outstanding achievement is due to the hard work, deep commitment and generous compassion of our faculty and staff, together with our supporters and partners making BMCC one of the best community colleges in the country.”

What community colleges do has a significant impact on our nation’s ability to develop diverse talent and promote social mobility, given that they enroll 6 million students—about 40 percent of all U.S. undergraduates—and disproportionately serve low-income and minority students.

For the rest of 2020, the Aspen Institute will work with a team of national experts to complete a rigorous review process to determine the eventual winner of the prize. This encompasses a comprehensive examination of outcomes data as well as multi-day virtual site visits to each of the 10 finalist institutions.

In early 2021, a distinguished jury will convene to select the prize winner, finalists with distinction, and a rising star and allocate a $1 million award among them. The winner will be announced at a May 2021 event in Washington, D.C.

The Aspen Prize is generously funded by Ascendium Education Group, Joyce Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.

2021 Aspen Prize Finalists

Amarillo College, Amarillo, TX

Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, NY

Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Odessa College, Odessa, TX

Pasadena City College, Pasadena, CA

Pierce College, Pierce County, WA

San Antonio College, San Antonio, TX

San Jacinto College, Pasadena, TX

Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee, FL

West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, KY


  • BMCC is one of 10 finalists nationwide for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
  • The award is administered by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program
  • Criteria includes public data on student outcomes in completion rates and more

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