Harper College

Harper once again a semifinalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

Aspen Prize Semifinalist 2025For the second consecutive time, Harper College is a semifinalist for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s most prestigious recognition for community colleges that are attaining high and improving levels of student success, as well as equitable outcomes for Black and Latine students and those from lower-income backgrounds.

Twenty colleges are vying for the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program’s 2025 Prize and $1 million in shared prize funds. Harper was also one of the 25 semifinalists for the 2023 prize.

“Being named a semifinalist for the Aspen Prize for the second time in a row is a meaningful honor that illustrates Harper’s commitment to excellence, innovation and equitable success for our students,” said Dr. Avis Proctor, president of Harper College. “Our faculty and staff are steadfast in their dedication to supporting students in their educational, career and life journeys. We are heartened and grateful for Harper’s inclusion in this prestigious group.”

The semifinalist stage, which debuted with the 2023 prize, is designed to highlight the number of community colleges across the country that are achieving excellence in student outcomes, both in college and after graduation, the Aspen Institute said in a release.

Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize honors colleges with outstanding performance in six critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, broad access to the college and its offerings, and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

The selection process for the 2025 prize began in October 2023, when the Aspen Institute invited 150 community colleges to apply out of more than 1,000 institutions nationwide based on data showing strong, improving and equitable student outcomes in key areas such as retention, completion and transfer. Applications went to a diverse selection committee of 18 higher education experts who reviewed extensive data and application narratives. The committee also held an interview with Harper’s leadership team.

Next, the committee will continue its review and narrow this selection of 20 semifinalists to 10 finalists, to be announced in June 2024. The Aspen Prize winner will be announced in spring 2025.

“Each of these colleges has demonstrated a sustained commitment to moving beyond enrollment and retention as the markers of student success to defining their success by whether the education they provide changes lives,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “These colleges understand that enrollment and graduation matter most when tied tightly to post-graduation success in transferring for a bachelor’s degree and in securing fulfilling, good-paying jobs and careers.” 

In addition to being a semifinalist for the 2023 Aspen Prize, Harper was previously eligible to apply for the 2017 honor. Harper is the only Illinois college that is a semifinalist for the 2025 honor.

The Aspen Prize is funded by Ascendium, the Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase and the Kresge Foundation. For more information, visit the Aspen Institute.

Last Updated: 5/7/24