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#1 Community College in the Nation

By Dave Loveton, Sports Information
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 

Story on White House web site

Aspen Prize will benefit Athletics

The chant of “We’re No. 1” doesn’t just apply to athletic teams at Santa Barbara City College.

SBCC was awarded the prestigious Aspen Prize as the top community college school in the nation for success in attracting, retaining and graduating students into jobs and four-year universities.

Dr. Paula Congleton is the softball coach at SBCC and says this will help bring student-athletes to Santa Barbara.

“It will help recruiting because we’ll get the best kids who know they’re going to get the best education in California and the nation for a two-year school,” said Congleton. “We have 61 degree programs that are phenomenal, we’ve got the best faculty and our athletic division has been doing great things.

“Ryan Byrne at the helm (as athletic director) has been doing fantastic things for us. And we have the Academic Achievement Zone (for athletes, which is run by Congleton). We provide all services to all students and it’s phenomenal.”

SBCC is also known for its high transfer rate to four-year schools.

“I think we’re in the 80-percentile rate for transfers and our kids come out of here better prepared for four-year schools,” Congleton added. “And they’re more successful when they get to those schools.”

SBCC student-athletes are twice as likely as non-student-athletes to be transfer-ready after two years and twice as likely to complete their degrees. Nearly 33 percent of all student-athletes are on the Honor Roll with at least a 3.0 GPA.

“I'm so proud of this recognition because it really affirms how our coaches, faculty and staff put students first and consistently go above and beyond for student success,” said Byrne. “We are all about creating opportunities for students and this award means that even more four-year colleges are going to be recruiting SBCC student-athletes because they know we are doing it right academically and athletically."

SBCC was honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Here’s what Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, wrote in a story on the White House web site. Jill Biden is a lifelong educator:

“The Aspen Prize is designed to honor and recognize excellence in community colleges through evaluation of academic and workforce outcomes in both absolute performance and improvements over time. By focusing on student success and lifting up models that work, the Aspen Prize honors excellence, stimulates innovation, and creates benchmarks for measuring progress – highlighting the “best of the best” and giving other schools the opportunity to consider adapting those best practices to their own campuses.”

According to a story in the San Jose Mercury News, SBCC was picked for its success at attracting and graduating students from low-income or minority families and sending them on to graduate from four-year schools at impressive rates.

"These colleges, by really paying close attention to what comes next, are aligning what they do to that kind of success," said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute's college excellence program, which awards the prize.

The Aspen Prize recognizes community college excellence in the areas of student learning, degree completion, labor market success in securing good jobs after college, and minority and low-income student success.

Santa Barbara City College has about 21,000 students and a strong focus on preparing graduates to transfer to four-year universities. A third of the students are Hispanic, unlike the more diverse demographics of many community colleges. Nearly half of the Hispanic students graduate or transfer within three years, compared with 35 percent nationally.

The college is known for the wraparound services it provides to help students overcome obstacles to graduation—from financial to academic.

"We have this common goal of simply wanting to see our students achieve their dreams," said SBCC President Lori Gaskin.