BMCC Named to Top 150 Colleges Eligible for 2021 Aspen Prize


November 6, 2019

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) has been named one of three community colleges in New York state, and one of 150 colleges nationwide to make the first round for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, awarded by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.

The Aspen Prize is the signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges in the United States. BMCC was selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity.

“We are proud to be recognized by the Aspen Institute for our collective efforts to improve student success, our highest priority at BMCC,” said BMCC Interim President Karrin E. Wilks. “All faculty, staff and students share in this recognition and in the vital work of community colleges to advance equity and social justice.” This is the first time BMCC has received this honor.

The selection is based on IPEDS data as well as data from the U.S. Census Bureau, both of which reflect measurable improvement for BMCC students, according to BMCC Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Planning Christopher Shults. “BMCC has the highest three-year graduation rate in its history, with a five-year increase of more than 50 percent. The metrics used by Aspen to determine college eligibility for this prize are the same metrics that we are measuring, analyzing, and working to improve.”

“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,” said 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.


  • BMCC is one of 150 colleges nationwide to make the first round 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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