Lake Area Technical Institute in South Dakota won the Aspen Institute's 2017 Prize for Community College Excellence Tuesday.
The $600,000 prize, which has been awarded every two years since 2011, goes to a community college that has shown high achievement, improvement and reform in the sector. The college was selected from a pool of more than 1,000 public two-year institutions in the country.
“On every measure of community college excellence, Lake Area Technical Institute is firing on all cylinders,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program, in a news release. “Its outstanding graduation and job-placement rates are a result of its deep commitment to ensure that all students thrive in the classroom and in great jobs after graduation. LATI and all the prize finalists offer lessons for community colleges across the nation -- large and small, rural and urban -- on how to improve student success.”
Lake Area Tech has a 74 percent graduation and transfer rate, an 80 percent retention rate and 99 percent of graduates are employed after completing, according to Aspen. The college has about 1,900 students.
Two other colleges were named finalists with distinction -- Broward College in Fort Lauderdale and Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, both in Florida. Two Texas colleges -- Odessa College and San Jacinto College -- were recognized as Rising Star winners for showing improvement. All four institutions will receive $100,000.