Three-and-a-half years ago, WCC kicked off an ambitious strategic planning process aimed at doubling its graduation rate. The strategic plan was built around the Aspen Institute’s framework for college excellence. On September 7, the architect of Aspen’s framework is paying a (virtual) visit to WCC. Mr. Joshua Wyner, founder of The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, will be the keynote speaker to kick off WCC’s annual professional development day.

The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program actively works to improve student outcomes through research, the development of tools and other materials, and highly visible programs like the Aspen Prize, the Aspen Presidential Fellowship, and Siemens Technical Scholars. The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is awarded every two years to institutions with outstanding achievement in six areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds, and leadership and culture.

WCC is home to two recipients of the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship: Dr. Jeff Cox and Dr. Yolanda Wilson. Fellows are selected for this prestigious program through a rigorous process that considered candidates’ abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams, cultivate partnerships, and focus on results-oriented improvements for greater student success and access. Dr. Cox, who is President of WCC, completed the fellowship in 2017-2018 and continues to engage with the Aspen Institute as a mentor to current fellows around the U.S. Dr. Yolanda Wilson, who is Vice President of Instruction at WCC, completed the fellowship in 2019-2020, and has continued her involvement with the Aspen Institute as a member of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship Alumni Advisory Council, assisting in the recruitment and selection of future classes of rising fellows and providing feedback to Aspen about ongoing activities and the needs of the alumni network.

WCC President, Dr. Jeff Cox stated, “I am thrilled to have Josh Wyner offering our keynote address at our professional development session. Leading the Aspen Institute’s Community College Excellence Program has put Josh in a position to travel the country finding the very best community colleges in the nation and pinpointing the best practices in those colleges that make them so good. I can’t think of anyone better equipped to kick off our professional development focus on teaching and learning this year!”

Dr. Yolanda Wilson, Vice President of Instruction stated, “It is an honor to have Josh Wyner share his observations of what excellent community colleges do! Hearing firsthand what distinguishes those colleges from the rest and enables them to improve outcomes both during and after a student’s journey will set the stage for the critical work ahead in supporting our new Teaching and Learning Fellowship Program and other strategic planning efforts.”

Joshua Wyner founded the College Excellence Program at the Aspen Institute in 2010, where he still serves as executive director of the program and vice president at the Aspen Institute. The Aspen College Excellence Program has grown from a single project – the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence – to a multi-faceted set of more than 10 initiatives designed to influence college and university practice. Mr. Wyner has spent the past two decades initiating organizations aimed at improving and equalizing educational outcomes. He has authored numerous publications about education, including a book, “What Excellent Community Colleges Do: Preparing All Students for Success” (Harvard Education Press, 2014). He has a B.A. from Vassar College, an MPA from Syracuse University, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.