San Antonio College Awarded the 2021 Aspen Prize

May 20, 2021

Kay Hendricks


The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program recently announced that Alamo Colleges - San Antonio College (SAC) is the winner of the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. SAC is the first community college in Texas to win the award. As winner of the Aspen Prize, San Antonio College will receive $600,000.

"The Board and all of us in the Alamo Colleges District family are so proud of San Antonio College being named the number one community college in the nation. Congratulations to Dr. Vela and the entire SAC family," said Dr. Mike Flores, chancellor of the Alamo Colleges. "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.

“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,” he added.

The Aspen Prize is a testament not only to SAC’s achievements in student success but those of all the Alamo Colleges.

The district’s numbers tell the story:

  • In the last six years, the Alamo Colleges have awarded 68,546 degrees and certificates
  • They have shaved a year off the average time it takes a student to complete their associate degree, saving students time and money
  • The district has seen a steady increase in enrollment, with an all-time high in Fall 2020 of 68,319 while other community colleges in the state and nation saw decreases
  • 90% of students are employed or enrolled in a university within 6 months of graduation

This honor is significant not only for SAC, but for the Alamo Colleges because it affirms the district’s laser focus on student success. Along with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, it places the Alamo Colleges at the highest level of excellence in the nation. It affirms the faith students, taxpayers and the community place in the Alamo Colleges as an institution that delivers on its promise of excellence and student success

The Aspen Prize, awarded every two years since 2011, recognizes outstanding institutions 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 which align closely with the Alamo Colleges District’s strategic goals and evidence of student success, as measured by its key performance indicators.