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Outstanding  Dissertation Award


This award bestows recognition to a worthy individual whose doctoral dissertation makes a substantial contribution to the literature and/or practice of community college instruction, governance, or workforce development.

A substantial contribution is defined as dissertation research that demonstrably adds to the scholarly literature on community college, revises understanding of a researchable problem associated with community college, or looks at an aspect of community college in a new way. The dissertation may also be an interdisciplinary effort that identifies a research problem new to the field. Dissertations utilizing a diversity of methodological approaches are encouraged. Applicants vying for the award do not need to be members of the Bellwether College Consortium, but do need to be enrolled or have recently completed their doctoral program at an accredited four-year university in the United States.



The creation of this inaugural dissertation award competition serves as a significant, unique and valuable contribution to community college scholarship. The Community College Futures Assembly provides a high-energy venue to amplify research focused on issues central to public two-year colleges. This national recognition at Bellwether’s signature event provides an ideal platform to showcase exemplary research sponsored, featured and disseminated by the Bellwether College Consortium.



The Bellwether Outstanding Dissertation Award is open to graduate students who conducted research for a dissertation study in partial fulfillment of a doctoral degree (i.e. Ed.D. or Ph.D.) and whose research focused on community colleges or community college students. All complete and eligible submissions are reviewed by a select panel of esteemed scholars and practitioners with expertise in community college issues. The national panel will exclude any judge associated with the applicant’s doctoral program or institution. The doctoral dissertation must be successfully defended between December 2, 2023, and no later than December 1, 2024. A complete application and PDF file of the successful dissertation with all committee member signatures must be received through the ODA submission portal no later than December 2, 2024.



  • Complimentary registration for the 2025 Community College Futures Assembly, at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.
  • The awardee is formally announced at the Bellwether Award Ceremony and presented with the Bellwether Outstanding Dissertation Award. A brief abstract of the study will be shared and a picture of the award recipient will be shown at the event.
  • An exclusive invitation to provide a presentation at the 2025 Community College Futures Assembly
  • Recognition is provided on the Bellwether College Consortium website, in printed and electronic materials, and through the consortium’s social media channels



Applicants must complete an online submission form providing the following information:

  • Dissertation author’s name and contact information.
  • Title of the dissertation, date successfully defended, university and name, title, and email address of the applicant’s dissertation chair.
  • A brief description of the dissertation not exceeding 800 words. This summarization may be the dissertation abstract or synopsis. It should address each of the judged criteria and will be scored in the first round of the judging process.
  • Provide a URL link to a pdf file of your successfully defended and accepted version of your dissertation and include the page with all your dissertation committee members’ signatures.



Submissions will be evaluated based on the following criteria.

Criteria for round one is solely a review of the dissertation summary and letter of support:

  • Timeliness of research (i.e. new or trending issue)
  • Significance and/or originality of the problem and research questions pertaining to community college
  • Overall applicability of the study to community college practice and scholarship
  • A score based on the strength of the letter of support is added to the total score for each submission in the first round of the competition

Criteria for round two will consist of an evaluation of the entire dissertation document:

  • Timeliness of research (i.e. new or trending issue)
  • Relevant and appropriate use of theory/theories or a theoretical or conceptual framework
  • Comprehensiveness and relevance of the literature review
  • Detailed rationale and detail of methodology employed, including research design
  • Rationale and quality of the data analysis
  • Comprehensibility and meaningfulness of the results to community college practice
  • Applicability of the study to theory and/or practice to community college

Precision and strength of writing, critical analysis, and scope and depth of bibliography as related to the research topic

Submission Form



The Bellwether Award recipient will be announced and recognized at the 2025 Community College Futures Assembly with a beautiful award for an outstanding dissertation.



The jury of judges will be comprised of representatives including the Alamo Colleges District Board of Trustees, seasoned researchers committed to the study of community college issues, leaders of national community college organizations, and respected members of higher education philanthropy.


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For general questions:

Rose Martinez, PhD