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M State named one of top 150 community colleges in the nation

Minnesota State Community and Technical College has been named one of the top 150 community colleges in the United States by the Aspen Institute, making M State eligible to compete for the $1 million 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

Colleges are selected for eligibility based on their student success in three areas: persistence, completion and transfer; consistent improvement in outcomes over time; and equity in outcomes for students of all racial-ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The Aspen Institute’s top 150 colleges are chosen from nearly 1,000 community colleges nationwide.

 “The bar for the Aspen Prize is intentionally set high in order to identify those institutions that have demonstrated exceptional levels of student success,” according to the Aspen Institute.

“We have implemented some very innovative policies and practices related to student services, so it’s an honor to be recognized by the Aspen Institute for our work in that area,” said M State President Peggy Kennedy.

M State has campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena and its online eCampus. It has been ranked among the nation’s top community colleges twice before by the Aspen Institute, most recently in 2012.

The 150 institutions recognized this year are from 37 states. The other Minnesota colleges eligible to compete for the award are Alexandria Technical & Community College, Central Lakes College, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, North Hennepin Community College, Northland Community and Technical College, Rainy River Community College and Ridgewater College.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.

“By focusing on student success and lifting up models that work, the Aspen Institute and its partners aim to further the national understanding of community colleges that strive to increase student success, stimulate innovation and create benchmarks for measuring progress,” according to its website.

Kennedy said Carrie Brimhall, M State’s associate vice president of academic and student affairs, will lead M State’s follow-up application for the Aspen Prize. Based on the applications submitted, 10 community colleges will be selected to advance to the next round of competition, and the Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to the 10 finalists in the fall.

As a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, M State serves more than 9,000 students in credit courses each year  in more than 70 career and liberal arts programs at its four campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena, and through eCampus.

By partnering with communities, the college also provides custom training services and other responsive training programs.