Campus News

Santa Barbara City College Named to Aspen Institute Top Ten Community Colleges List in Nation for Second Year in a Row

September 5, 2012

For the second year in a row, Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) has been named as one of ten finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges. 

SBCC now enters the last stage of the competition for the $1 million prize fund that will be awarded in March in Washington, D.C. to a national winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction.  Selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges, SBCC was the only community college in California to be named to the ten finalists’ list again.  
The Aspen Prize recognizes the most outstanding two-year institutions in the nation for achievements in four areas: student learning outcomes, degree and college completion, labor market success in students securing jobs after college, and minority and low-income student success.

“Our entire campus community is delighted with this good news and takes great pride in our top ten designation,” said SBCC President Lori Gaskin, Ph.D.  “Once again, SBCC has clearly demonstrated that we rank among the best community colleges in the nation.  We are a highly student-centered institution with outstanding faculty focused on student success and a culture that promotes and thrives on creativity and innovation.”  She added, “In a time of budget austerity throughout the state, this recognition is even more gratifying because SBCC has shown that our commitment to excellence is unwavering, even as financial resources grow scarcer.  We will not let down our students.”

 “Santa Barbara City College is doing an excellent job of providing students with the knowledge and skill sets they need for success – whether they’re transferring to a four-year college like nearby UCSB or heading directly into the job market,” said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “It’s particularly impressive to see SBCC maintaining its innovative approaches at a time of continuing state education budget cuts.”

The Aspen Institute said that SBCC, largely focused on transfer to four-year institutions, sets high standards for students, and delivers strong services to enable students to reach them, from a first-rate writing center to specialized support programs for historically under-achieving students. 

SBCC’s focus on helping underrepresented minorities bridge the achievement gap has resulted in rates well above the national average for community colleges - a three-year graduation and transfer rate of 48% for Hispanic students, who comprise over 30% of its student body.

 Expanding student development efforts beyond its campus to local high schools, SBCC has the largest dual enrollment program among California’s 112 community colleges. SBCC is helping high-school students develop long-term educational plans through college readiness and career counseling programs.

The ten community colleges named as finalists were selected from an original national pool of over 1,000 and pared down to a list of 120 in April. An advisory committee expert in community college data and performance devised a formula to select the 120 based on publicly available data.  The formula considered three factors, each weighted equally:

  • Performance [retention, graduation rates (including transfers), and degrees and certificates per 100 “full-time equivalent” students]
  • Improvement [steady improvement in each performance metric over five years]
  • Equity [evidence of completion outcomes for minority and low-income students]

Top Ten Finalists

  • Brazosport College, Lake Jackson, TX
  • Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • College of the Ouachitas, Malvern, AR
  • Kingsborough Community College - CUNY, Brooklyn, NY
  • Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD*
  • Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA*
  • Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL
  • Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, Cumberland, KY
  • Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla, WA*
  • West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, KY*

Four of the colleges on the list earned this distinction for a second straight year (indicated by an asterisk)

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to identify and replicate campus-wide practices that significantly improve college student outcomes.  Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the New College Leadership Project, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit








Recent News

News and Events home

721 Cliff Drive Santa Barbara, CA 93109-2394    Main Campus Phone: 805.965.0581    © 2016 Santa Barbara City College