Aspen Institute ranks Moorpark College fourth best community college in the nation


The Moorpark College football team at the Performing Arts Center for a viewing ceremony of the 2023 Aspen Prize award finalists announcement on April 20, 2023. Moorpark College received fourth place for the Aspen Institute College Excellence Award. Photo credit: Mike Stuart

By Briana Cruz

With students and faculty members avidly awaiting the results, Moorpark College received word that it was awarded fourth place in the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The Aspen Prize gives community colleges the opportunity to receive national recognition. President Barack Obama even referred to the Aspen Prize as the “Oscars” for community colleges.

Every two years, the Aspen Institute awards the Aspen Prize to community colleges that demonstrate excellence in critical areas such as retention, completion transfer and equity. Experts evaluate applicants in these categories and assess successful student outcomes when determining rankings and award finalists.

In April of 2022, Moorpark College was named a top 25 finalist for the Aspen Prize out of 109 applicants, and the school was one of two community colleges in California be named a finalist. This distinction was also a historic achievement since it was Moorpark College’s first time as an Aspen Prize finalist.

Months later, in June of 2022, the Aspen Institute announced that Moorpark College had been named among the top 10 finalists for the coveted Aspen Prize award. Greg Gillespie, chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District, commented on this accomplishment and expressed his support for the college’s recent success.

“With each level Moorpark College advances, we continue to be extremely proud of the campus’s dedicated faculty, classified staff and students who have made this recognition possible,” Gillespie said. “We eagerly await the exciting news in late spring next year of the Aspen Prize winner announcement.”

Being named a finalist for this award also signified that Moorpark College was ranked as a top 10 community college in the nation. Moorpark College President Julius Sokenu released a statement commending the efforts of all those involved in making the college’s success possible.

“We put students first by honoring and motivating their dreams for career success, academic engagement and personal growth,” Sokenu said, “Our faculty, staff and administrators are intentional in nurturing those dreams in a safe and inclusive environment with high expectations and high support.”

Moorpark College received further good news yesterday when the Aspen Institute released the final rankings for the Aspen Prize. On April 20, Moorpark College was ranked fourth place for the Aspen Institute College Excellence Award, a laudable feat for a first-time nominee. Sokenu released an email announcing this latest accomplishment for the college.

“I am incredibly proud of this recognition, as it is a testament to the work we all do to create a living-learning environment for students, faculty, staff, and administrators …” Sokenu said. “Our students deserve a round of applause. It is their diligence and commitment that is being recognized and honored by the College Excellence Program of the Aspen Institute.”

Yesterday, students, faculty and administrators joined together in the college’s Performing Arts Center for a viewing ceremony of the Aspen Prize announcement. Donning Moorpark College signs, apparel and school colors, they eagerly awaited news of the final Aspen Prize rankings.

Many of the college’s sports teams were in attendance including football, women’s volleyball and women’s basketball. Head football coach Mike Stuart shared a tweet of his football team supporting the college.

“Great representation from Raider football for showing up this morning for the Aspen viewing ceremony,” Stuart tweeted. “Moorpark College was a Top 10 Community College in the Nation recognized for the 2023 Aspen Award.”

The winners of this year’s Aspen Prize were Amarillo College in Texas and Imperial Valley College in California. With the final rankings officially announced, Moorpark College is now the fourth best community college nationwide in the eyes of the Aspen Institute.