Acting Superintendent/President Jack Friedlander represented SBCC at a special luncheon held in Washington, D.C., on Monday at which the top 10 finalists for the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program were recognized.

Among the guests were Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and a longtime educator; Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education; and Richard Riley, former U.S. secretary of education.

After making the initial cut of the top 120 community colleges from nearly 1,200 accredited, public community colleges nationwide in April, SBCC was named one of the 10 finalists in September and was the only community college in California to make the prestigious list.

“This recognition is validation of SBCC’s outstanding reputation as a premiere community college, not only in the state but in the nation,” Friedlander said. “We clearly demonstrated to the Aspen Institute selection committee that our college is both data- and outcomes-driven, and that academic excellence and student success are our top priorities.

“It was a privilege to attend this luncheon in Washington with my peers and to be recognized by President (Barack) Obama and his administration and leaders in higher education and business for our collective extraordinary accomplishments as community colleges.”

Josh Wyner, Aspen Institute executive director added: “The Aspen Prize process evaluated more than 1,000 community colleges. Being one of the top 10 is itself something to celebrate. Santa Barbara does an excellent job of ensuring student success by identifying the barriers to student learning, and adopting approaches aimed at helping more students gain the tools they will need to be successful in a four-year college and a career. We thank Santa Barbara for participating in this year’s Aspen Prize process, and for helping define excellence for community colleges nationwide.”

The Aspen Institute luncheon concluded a year-long research process for the top community colleges in the country that deliver high levels of success for their students. Criteria included gaining knowledge and skills; completing degree or certificate programs; obtaining jobs with competitive wages after graduation; and striving to ensure equitable outcomes and success rates for all student populations.

The next step of the Aspen project calls for compiling and disseminating best practices from the 10 finalists to the 1,200 accredited, public community colleges nationwide.

— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.