Cue the Pomp and Circumstance! At a recent ceremony in Washington, D.C., Pierce College Fort Steilacoom was awarded top honors—the 2019 Aspen Rising Star Award for Community College Excellence. The Rising Star designation is accompanied by a $100,000 cash award.
The national award is in recognition of leadership in several distinct, significant categories: dramatically improving student outcomes, improved student retention and completion, a commitment to equitable outcomes for students, service to military and their families, and a dedicated focus on helping all students overcome obstacles.
“Many of our students are nontraditional,” says Pierce College Chancellor and CEO Michele Johnson, Ph.D. “They’re the first in their families to go to college, and they often face financial and unique challenges. We are committed to helping each and every one of our students reach the finish line and receive an education that can change the trajectory of their lives.”
Johnson notes that the college’s completion and transfer rate is nearly 20 points above the national average. “This award represents hard work that’s being done every day across Pierce College to help students reach their goals.”
Pierce College serves 16,000 students annually on two campuses, at Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood and in Puyallup. The college also operates a teaching center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Evening college courses are also offered at Graham-Kapowsin and Spanaway Lake high schools in partnership with the Bethel School District.
“Our progress in improving student outcomes would not have been possible without the incredible work from everyone at our college and from our board of trustees,” said Deidre Soileau, interim president of Pierce College Fort Steilacoom. “Our employees have been willing to ask hard questions, use data to inform change, and to create new possibilities for students.”
“At every turn, Pierce College identifies and lifts barriers that stand in students’ way,” said Joshua Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “By enacting comprehensive reforms—and measuring impact every step of the way—Pierce has improved student success at a remarkable rate.”
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