Aspen visit complete, announcement set for December

Email this article 09/29/2011

The on-site visit is over – now the waiting begins for Southwest Texas Junior College in the competition for the first ever Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

Representatives from the Aspen Institute were on the Uvalde campus for a two-day visit on Sept. 22 - 23.

"It was a hectic two days," SWTJC Dean of Institutional Advancement and Technology Dr. Blaine Bennett said. "They visited with students, faculty, staff, program directors and administrators. They had lots of question and our people answered them all."

Bennett, whose office has been responsible for compiling and submitting data for the competition, said a final announcement on an overall winner will be made in December. A total of $1 million will be awarded from the prize fund to the winner and up to three runners-up.

"I certainly hope we win some of the prize money," Bennett said. "However, no matter what the final outcome, being recognized as one of the top ten community colleges in the nation is a tremendous honor that I know our students, faculty and staff all take great pride in."

According to Bennett, he and other college personnel have been very grateful for all the congratulations they have already received from area residents, as well as education, community, government and business leaders across the region and state.

"We are acutely aware that this institution does not operate in a vacuum," Dr. Bennett said. "We have tremendous partners and this recognition is also a testimony to all their hard work and commitment to education."

A video featuring Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, along with SWTJC President Dr. Ismael Sosa, Jr., elected officials, education partners, community and business leaders, is posted on the college web site at

After receiving a report following on-site visits to all finalists, a "prize jury" co-chaired by John Engler, former Michigan governor and current president of the Business Roundtable, and Richard Riley, former Secretary of Education and governor of South Carolina, will select the grand prize winner and runners-up.

The formal announcement will be made in December at the White House.


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