Photo of San Antonio College campus with 2021 Aspen Prize Winner badge

San Antonio College Wins 2021 Aspen Prize

AFIT is proud to announce that longtime member San Antonio College (SAC) has been awarded the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. It is the first time in its 10-year history that the award has been given to a Texas community college!

The $1 million prize, awarded every two years since 2011, recognizes excellence in equitable outcomes for students during and after college. San Antonio College was selected from a pool of more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide. With a singular focus on student success, the Aspen Prize honors institutions with outstanding achievement in six areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds, and leadership and culture.

According to the Aspen Institute, "San Antonio College aligns all its spending with its strategic, student-centered priorities: advising, academic supports, and nonacademic supports. Every vacancy is filled only if it will advance these priorities; all work-study students have jobs either as peer advisors or tutors; and when the college eliminated part-time positions, it transferred employees to student success-focused jobs where possible."

“This is the highest national honor that a community college can receive. Today’s news makes me proud, happy and just about every good feeling you can imagine,” said SAC President Dr. Robert Vela.  “It’s a breathtaking achievement for our faculty, staff and students and it embodies the very best of everyone who worked so hard to make it happen.”

Dr. Robert Vela, President of San Antonio College
AFIT member Dr. Robert Vela, President of San Antonio College
Dr. Mike Flores, Chancellor of Alamo Colleges District
AFIT member Dr. Mike Flores, Chancellor of Alamo Colleges District

"The Board and all of us in the Alamo Colleges District family are so proud of San Antonio College's outstanding accomplishment as the number one community college in the nation, honored with the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. This recognition for San Antonio College reflects their faculty and staff’s dedication, hard work and commitment to student success and performance excellence," said Dr. Mike Flores, chancellor of the Alamo Colleges District. "They are the first of our colleges to win this prestigious national honor and one of three named to the Aspen Top 150 community colleges this year, along with Northwest Vista College and Palo Alto College. In 2019, four of our five colleges were named to the Aspen Top 100, the same year Palo Alto College was named in the top one percent of community colleges and a Rising Star by the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program,” he added.

In October 2017, SAC first gained recognition from the Aspen Institute when it was selected as one of 150 community colleges eligible for the 2019 Aspen Prize.

In November 2019, SAC was named to the list of 150 community colleges eligible for the 2021 Aspen Prize. In addition to San Antonio College, two other institutions in the Alamo Colleges District, Northwest Vista College and Palo Alto College, were named as Top 150 Community Colleges.

In June 2020, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program announced San Antonio College as one of the top 10 finalists for the 2021 Prize. All the colleges, according to the Aspen Institute, “were recognized for effectively identifying, developing, and scaling strategies to propel all students to not just complete college but also succeed after graduation.

Congratulations to Dr. Vela, Dr. Flores, and the entire San Antonio College team!