College Excellence Program

The Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve 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.

Program Updates


Congratulations to our 2015 Aspen Prize Winners!

Click the image below to learn more about their work.

2015 Aspen Prize Event Logo


The Promise of Universal Community College

"The president’s proposal offers a chance for our nation to reset the dynamic of who goes to college. Too often, the answer has been: Whoever could navigate the application process and afford tuition.The possibility for tomorrow: Anyone willing to make the commitment."

Josh Wyner comments on President Obama’s proposal for free community college. To read more, click here.


Our Work

Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

The purpose of the Aspen Prize is to recognize community colleges with outstanding 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.

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New College Leadership Project

Efforts to improve college student success have accelerated in recent years, focused largely on the need to increase graduation rates which currently stand at about 50% nationally.  With the majority of college presidents over 60 years old, higher education systems and institutions have an opportunity and challenge: how to recruit, hire, and prepare the next generation of college presidents so that they can lead institutions to higher levels of student success. The New College Leadership Program aims to help meet that challenge through research into the attributes and actions of college presidents whose institutions achieve high levels of student success, and programs that work to increase the number of college presidents with the ability to replicate exceptional results.

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