September 28, 2023
State College Presidents

Photo: Valencia College

Valencia College in Orlando was recognized in 2011 as the nation's best community college by the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies center.

« Return to Floridian of the Year
Newsmakers of the Year - Statewide

State College Presidents

Florida has more top-performing community colleges than any other state.

Mark R. Howard | 12/26/2012

Florida’s higher education system has been buffeted in recent years by challenges ranging from increasing demands for accountability to funding cutbacks to expanded roles for two-year schools in offering four-year degrees.

Amid the fiscal and political turmoil, community colleges — the frontline institutions vital in creating a skilled workforce for the state — have distinguished themselves. The non-profit Aspen Institute, a respected educational and policy studies institute, placed 14 of Florida’s 28 community colleges among the top 10% in the nation. Two — Broward College in Fort Lauderdale and Santa Fe College in Gainesville — are among the top 10 in the country. The institute will pick the top two from among that list.

Florida has the most community colleges among the top 10% of any state. Among other large states, Texas has eight, New York, six, and California, three.
In 2011, Aspen recognized Valencia College as the nation’s best community college, based on three criteria: Performance, including retention and graduation rates; improvement in specified areas over five years; and equity, the ability to extend good outcomes to minority and disadvantaged students.

Valencia was recognized for continuous improvement and having among the highest degree-award rates in the country. Its graduates get jobs at a higher rate than almost any other school in the nation, even in an Orlando economy with unemployment rates higher than the national average.

Miami Dade College, was among four other finalists that shared the $1-million, biennial prize with  Valencia.


“We are more accessible, and many of our programs are configured to prepare students for the workplace in the least amount of time necessary to master the subject matter and complete any internship and/or certification requirements. There is another compelling reason: Affordability.”

— David Armstrong, president, Broward College, Fort Lauderdale

“It’s possible to improve student achievement. We know how to do this.”

— Sandy Shugart, president, Valencia College, Orlando

“Santa Fe has had a history of success at moving our students from college to jobs. The culture of expecting all students to improve has been there a long time.”

— Jackson Sasser, president, Santa Fe College, Gainesville

“Access to college must be available to all citizens.”

— Eduardo Padrón, president, Miami Dade College, Miami, TREND’s 2010 Floridian of the Year



Florida state colleges among the Aspen Institute’s top 10% (in alphabetical order):

Brevard Community College, Cocoa

Broward College, Fort Lauderdale

Chipola College, Marianna

College of Central Florida, Ocala

Indian River State College, Fort Pierce

Lake-Sumter Community College, Leesburg

Miami Dade College, Miami

Northwest Florida State College, Niceville

Beach State College, Lake Worth

Pasco-Hernando Community College, New Port Richey

Santa Fe College, Gainesville

South Florida Community College, Avon Park

St. Johns River State College, Palatka

Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee

Valencia College, Orlando *

*Because it won the prize in 2011, Valencia is not eligible to apply for the biennial award this year.

Tags: Floridian of the Year, Around Florida, Education, Newsmakers of the Year, Statewide Newsmakers

Florida Business News

Florida News Releases

Florida Trend Video Pick

Largo park offers refuge for wounded, winged warriors
Largo park offers refuge for wounded, winged warriors

In the woods where only the powerful survive, you will find a common refuge for wounded and winged warriors. Twenty-two birds that once hunted are getting a helping hand and a permanent place to call home at the George McGough Nature Park in Largo.

Video Picks | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Do you believe that home values in Florida have finally peaked?

  • Absolutely!
  • No way!
  • The jury's still out...
  • Other (Let us know in the comment section below)

See Results

Florida Trend Media Company
490 1st Ave S
St Petersburg, FL 33701

© Copyright 2023 Trend Magazines Inc. All rights reserved.