Students study marine biology on
a beach near Santa Barbara City
College in California.
on the first attempt free up capacity
for additional students, making the
college more effective and efficient,
“While our results are impressive
and have garnered national attention,
for which we are humbled and grateful, it has not translated into funding
that can spur the kind of innovation
and performance that our mission, our
community, and our students require,”
To expand its capacity in a time of
fiscal restraint, Valencia has steadfastly
grown the ranks of its online program
from 8 percent of total enrollment just
a few years ago to more than 20 percent
today. As more part-time faculty come
on board to teach more students, the
college has also developed online
professional development programs.
Combining a portion of its Aspen
prize money with other financial gifts,
lege that faces significant challenges.
Like several colleges across the state,
SBCC has been forced to endure severe
Two of its more recent programs—
Express to Success and Express to
Transfer—were created to move
students through the system, ensuring
that they achieve their academic goals
as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“The program is designed to increase
and accelerate completion of basic college skills,” says Friedlander. Students
who enter the program are expected
to pass their first degree or transfer
courses in English and mathematics in
two years or less. The program offers a
range of services—structured pathways, student support, close monitoring of individual progress, and timely
intervention, among them—to ensure
The results, so far, have been
encouraging. By the end of fall 2011,
95 percent of all Express to Success
students remained enrolled in college,
80 percent successfully passed the core
English and mathematics courses in
which they enrolled, and 70 percent
passed as many as two English or mathematics courses in a single semester.
The second program, Express to
Transfer, builds off the same tenets
that made the Express to Success initiative so effective. With development
scheduled to begin this fall, SBCC faculty and staff will work with students
who have successfully completed their
Express to Success basic skills courses,
or who enter the college one level
below college-ready English or mathematics, but are committed to obtaining
40%: Amount of operating revenue that
Valencia College receives from state funds.
Shugart says Valencia plans to launch
the Aspen Fund for Innovation, a $1.1
million cache to support promising
practices intended to improve student
outcomes, boost college completion,
and increase job placement.
“Valencia is the most efficient community college in Florida, with the
lowest cost per completion,” Shugart
says. “But we have a long way to go.”
Path to Progress
Valencia is hardly the only community
college in the nation to turn heads with
its innovative approach.
Santa Barbara City College (SBCC)
in Santa Barbara, Calif., is another col-
With state funding no longer an option,
administrators relied on two federal
grants, totaling more than $7 million,
to fund the efforts.
The Obama administration has put forth some bold proposals that could potentially provide billions in new funding for
community colleges. Visit the AACC Web site for a closer look at the latest proposals: www.aacc.nche.edu/obama8billion.