Aspen Institute Recognizes WKCTC as One of Top Ten Finalists in National Prize Competition

Paducah, KY (03/14/2017) — West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) was recognized in an award ceremony in Washington, DC, as one of the top ten community colleges nationally in the prestigious and bi-annual Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

WKCTC has earned a place on the ten finalists’ list every year the Prize has been awarded (2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017) and was named a finalist-with-distinction in 2011 and 2015. During the March 14th ceremony at the Newseum, WKCTC was recognized for:

More than 200 WKCTC faculty, staff, students and college supporters listened to a live Web broadcast of the Aspen ceremony from Washington D.C. Tuesday as officials recognized WKCTC as a finalists and named Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota, as the winner of the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The $1 million Aspen Prize, awarded every two years since 2011, recognizes outstanding institutions selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 public community colleges nationwide. With a singular focus on student success, the Prize process centers on a rigorous assessment of institutions’ achievements in four areas: learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students. Aspen named two Florida colleges as finalists-with-distinction: Broward College (Fort Lauderdale) and Indian River State College (Fort Pierce). Two top ten finalists were recognized for their strong record of improvement with the “Rising Star” award: Odessa College (Odessa, TX) and San Jacinto College (Pasadena, TX) All four will receive $100,000 in Prize funds, while grand prize winner Lake Area will receive $600,000 in Prize funds.

“This has been such an incredible journey since it began in 2011,” said WKCTC President Anton Reece, in a pre-recorded message to those watching the live broadcast in Paducah Tuesday. “We have shared the unique distinction of being one of two colleges in the nation, to be recognized not once, not twice, not three times but as a four-time national finalist and that is an incredible achievement that we want to celebrate and continue to build that legacy on.”

WKCTC is one of 16 community colleges in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). “I’m extremely proud of the faculty and staff at West Kentucky Community and Technical College for once again being a finalist for this prestigious award,” said KCTCS President Jay K. Box. “Being a finalist each of the four times the Aspen Award has been presented is phenomenal. The KCTCS family is celebrating with them today.”

Aspen officials noted that from partnering with local organizations, outreach to minority students, to maintaining programs that allow students to earn college credit while completing high school, WKCTC’s ongoing dedication to improving lives beyond their own doors is remarkable.

“WKCTC has worked hard to successfully close college-level course completion gaps between minority and non-minority students enrolled in accelerated developmental courses,” said former U.S. Representative George Miller, while announcing the college’s recognition. “Working with the community to secure funding to build the Emerging Technology Center, the college has brought together state-of-the-art facilities, customized training for business and industry, and college courses to meet the technology needs of the regional labor market.”

For more information on West Kentucky Community and Technical College, and the national press release, go to:


The Aspen Prize is funded by the Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Siemens Foundation, and Pearson.

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Siemens Technical Scholars Program, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

Media Attachments

Dr. Anton Reece, president of West Kentucky Community and Technical College, prepares to be recognized during the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence ceremonies in Washington, DC on March 14, 2017

Dr. Anton Reece, president of West Kentucky Community and Technical College, (back row, second from left) stand with the presidents of the other nine community college finalists for the Aspen Prize

West Kentucky Community and Technical College employees Maria Zapata Palomet, Amanda Scheidegger, Sarita Buchanan and Mollie Bremer prepare for the 2017 Aspen announcement.