San Jac Sets Sights on $1M Award


Andrea Vasquez/San Jacinto College Marketing, Public Relations and Government Affairs Department

Graduates attend San Jacinto College Commencement in May. The College is one of the top 10 finalists vying for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

San Jacinto College was named one of the top 10 finalists for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

According to The Aspen Institute, its College Excellence Program is a multi-faceted initiative that “works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students.”

Dr. Laurel Williamson, deputy chancellor and college president said being recognized as a leader shows that student success is the primary focus at San Jacinto College.

“Being chosen as an Aspen award finalist shows that San Jacinto College has student success as its priority and that we are working to improve student learning and completion, align our programs with opportunities in careers and transfer, and address access and equity for low-income and minority students,” Williamson said.

Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer said she is passionate about San Jacinto College and the work done to prepare students to achieve their higher educational goals.

“I get teary-eyed because San Jacinto College is the college of the community,” Hellyer said. “This means we have a responsibility to our community and our students. We are really working hard to serve them!”

The Prize, awarded every two years since 2011, recognizes outstanding institutions selected from more than 1,000 public community colleges nationwide. The $1 million prize fund is awarded in March 2017 in Washington, D.C. San Jacinto College is one of two Texas colleges to place in the top 10.

Meanwhile, Williamson said the Aspen Institute will visit San Jac in October to conduct a rigorous review process that includes an examination of extensive data on performance and improvements. Afterward, a distinguished Prize Jury of higher education experts will select a grand prize winner and up to four finalists with distinction.

“My role as the Chancellor,” Hellyer said, “is all based on having outstanding faculty and students that are committed to their work at San Jacinto College and community, dedicated to our mission, and it’s about meeting the needs of our students.”