FVCC Wins Prestigious Community College Award

Kalispell college was one of three institutions to receive the 2015 Community College Bellwether Award

By Beacon Staff

Flathead Valley Community College recently received a highly acclaimed national award for improving students’ access to financial aid.

FVCC was one of three institutions to receive the 2015 Community College Bellwether Award, one of the highest honors for community colleges in the U.S. The award was announced earlier this month at the annual Community College Futures Assembly in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The award recognizes competitively selected leading-edge programs in community colleges worthy of replicating.

FVCC won the award in the Planning, Governance and Finance category, which recognizes programs or activities that have been designed and successfully implemented to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the community college.

FVCC’s project, “Using Financial Aid Data and Fundraising  Strategies to Improve Access, Persistence and Completion through Scholarships,” was presented by college Executive Director of Institutional Advancement Colleen Unterreiner and Executive Director of Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning Brad Eldredge, Ph.D.

The project involved the Flathead Valley Community College Foundation collaborating with the college’s financial aid and institutional research offices to examine the relationship of scholarships financed with FVCC Foundation event proceeds to persistence and completion. Study outcomes motivated the Foundation to improve marketing of the scholarship program, increase revenues for scholarships and transform its scholarship program to better impact student success.

“This is a tremendous honor,” said FVCC President Jane A. Karas, Ph.D. “We have seen significant growth in our Foundation and donor support since we began measuring the Foundation’s impact on student success. The support of our donors has transformed our ability to help students succeed and has resulted in measurable increases in persistence and completion. We hope other community colleges across the nation will be inspired to explore this effective model.”

“In more than 1,200 national community colleges, this is one of the highest honors an institution can receive. The awards are similar to being selected by your peers for the Oscar or Emmy Award,” said Dale, F. Campbell, Ph.D., professor and director of the Community College Futures Assembly and Institute of Higher Education. “Leaders of past winning programs have obtained ‘free agency’ status through the demonstrated results their programs have made. Leaders from the winning institution are often recruited by other colleges to replicate the award-winning program. They also receive hundreds of phone calls and visits by other colleges wanting to replicate the success of their program.”

The Community College Futures Assembly serves as an independent policy summit, to identify the critical issues facing community college leaders, while showcasing leading edge programs with demonstrated results, worthy of replicating.

This year, approximately 1,000 programs were nominated nationwide with over 300 applications received. Peer-reviewed committees judge entries in each of the three categories to select 10 finalists to travel to Lake Buena Vista to present and showcase their programs. In the last two decades, only 53 programs have been honored with the prestigious Bellwether Award.

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