White Mountains Community College (WMCC), with a campus in Berlin and academic centers in Littleton and North Conway, has been chosen as one of 150 semifinalists for the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. WMCC is only one of two community colleges in New England selected and is eligible for the $1 million prize and prestigious recognition based on performance in student outcomes.
“We are so thankful to be distinguished as a national semifinalist for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and this alone is a huge win,” said Dr. Chuck Lloyd, president of WMCC. “To be selected from a group of over 1,000 community colleges nationwide is an important marker in institutional performance.”
This is WMCC and the Community College System of New Hampshire’s first time being invited to apply for the Aspen Prize. WMCC was selected based on performance in student outcomes including graduation rates, equity and improvement over time. With a 51% graduation rate plus another 10% transferring over three years for first-time, full-time students, WMCC is well above the 45% industry average for graduation plus transfer among community colleges and consistently performs as one of the top schools in New England. Serving a large population of low-income students, 51% of WMCC students receive Pell Grants and 45% of those students graduate performing above the industry average of 34% and 26%, respectively. These selection markers tie into social mobility, upward movement upon graduation to a higher income bracket, where WMCC ranks the highest among all public and private schools in NH. This is partly due to the college’s accessibility and support for lower-income families.
“We are always striving for positive student outcomes and are humbled to have the opportunity to be recognized for this continued work,” Lloyd said. “We are proud to represent the state and the Community College System of New Hampshire through the application process and for the opportunity to bring home the Aspen Prize.”
Since 2010, the $1 million Aspen Prize is awarded every two years and has brought a new level of public attention to community colleges with defined comprehensive measures of excellence in outcomes for community college students. The Aspen Prize has uncovered and disseminated practices that help exceptional colleges ensure great outcomes for their students. The application is due by December 13 when a committee of national experts selects 10 finalist institutions and a winner of this prestigious award.
Striving for positive outcomes goes above and beyond the Aspen Prize and is part of WMCC’s mission and vision. Over the last year, new initiatives to remove barriers of attending college were put into place with a Meals Included program to help enrolled students combat food insecurities and The Gift to the Class of 2021 funded by the Foundation for New Hampshire Community Colleges and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to provide a free three-credit course for New Hampshire’s graduating 2021 high school seniors.