Community Column: PAC named among top in nation

April 16, 2019

Dr. Robert Garza

As president of Palo Alto College, I've seen firsthand the incredible work that my colleagues do each day to support our students and our community. Whether students are the first in their family to attend college or are looking to improve their educational attainment, we have always believed that education should be accessible to everyone.

On April 2, the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program announced that Palo Alto College was named a Rising Star award winner of the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges.

From an original pool of over 1,000 community colleges nationwide, Palo Alto College has been able to achieve something many might not have thought possible when we opened in 1985: being one of the top one percent of community colleges in the nation.

I am proud to share that the Aspen Institute recognized Palo Alto College for our work in building clear pathways to degrees and transferability, exceptional student advising, and strong partnerships with K-12 systems, which have resulted in remarkable improvement in the graduation and transfer rate over four years, from 28 percent to 47 percent.

This recognition is more than just an award. It validates the shared commitment of our dedicated faculty and staff in creating hope and opportunity for our students and our community. Without collaboration among colleagues throughout the Alamo Colleges District, K-12 school districts, and our industry partners, we would not be able to do what we do.

Representing the Alamo Colleges District and community colleges across the nation at this level is an honor.

Keeping students first is a core value of Palo Alto College, and this collective thought has created a place where our community and students can achieve their dreams and aspirations for a better life. What was once considered the best kept secret in south San Antonio is no longer a secret to the nation.

This column by Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College, was originally published in the San Antonio Express-News' Southside Reporter and