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Inside Higher Ed: Rapid Rise in Chicago

3/19/2015 12:00 AM

Kennedy-King's rapid improvement is partially due to ambitious goals set by City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Cheryl Hyman and Arshele Stevens, Kennedy-King's president. Both were attended the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program's award ceremony, where Kennedy-King received the new Rising Star institution award.  

Kennedy-King was also a 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence finalist. Florida's Santa Fe College took home the top honor. 

The award is no small feat for a community college. 

​Aspen uses a formula consisting of national performance data and information on underrepresented racial and ethnic groups at more than 1,000 community colleges to determine the finalists. They also gather labor market data and interview students and instructors to select the institutions that stand out.

“It’s about changing the culture and mind-set of the institution, then figuring out how you can help students,” Hyman said. 

The Chicago system's culture evolved from being solely about student access to also focusing on success, she said. In 2010, City Colleges unveiled an initiative called Reinvention, which focuses on increasing transfer rates, helping students earn college credits with economic value and improving outcomes for students who need remediation. 

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