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Two Tennessee community colleges are finalists for prestigious national excellence awards

Columbia State Community College's Williamson County campus

Two Tennessee community colleges are finalists for the American Association of Community Colleges’ 2018 Awards of Excellence, which recognize exceptional work among the nation’s two-year colleges.

Columbia State Community College and Pellissippi State Community College are among the six finalists for the AACC Award of Excellence in Student Success. No other state has more than one finalist in any one of the six award categories.

Columbia State is also one of five finalists for the Advancing Diversity award.

The winners of each category will be announced at the annual AACC convention April 28-May 1 in Dallas. AACC announced the finalists this week.

A total of 20 colleges in 15 states were named as finalists in the six award categories: Advancing Diversity, Faculty Innovation, Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership, Safety and Planning, Student Success and Chief Executive Officer/Board Relationship. The number of finalists in each category varies, from two to six. Only Ohio had more colleges named as finalists – three – than Tennessee, which tied with Texas and North Carolina with two colleges each.

“We’re delighted that two of our colleges are finalists for the top awards offered by our national association,” said Dr. Flora W. Tydings, chancellor of The College System of Tennessee -- the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology. “Student Success is our mission, and Student Success and Access are two of our five strategic priorities.  Our colleges, faculties and system staff have been doing cutting-edge work in these areas and it’s great to see Columbia State and Pellissippi State recognized as the national leaders we know they are.”

Columbia State Community College, Tennessee’s first public community college, serves nearly 6,000 students at its Columbia, Williamson, Lawrence, Lewisburg and Clifton campuses.

Pellissippi State Community College, Tennessee’s largest community college in terms of enrollment, serves nearly 11,200 students at its main Hardin Valley campus in West Knox County, three campuses in Knoxville, and its Blount County campus near Maryville.

The American Association of Community Colleges is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges, with a mission of building a nation of learners. It represents nearly 1,200 two-year, associate degree–granting institutions and more than 12 million students. AACC promotes community colleges through five strategic action areas: recognition and advocacy for community colleges; student access, learning and success; community college leadership development; economic and workforce development, and global and intercultural education.

AACC’s Awards of Excellence underscore the association’s priorities and brings national visibility to promising practices among member colleges. Nominees were judged by a select committee of the AACC Board of Directors.

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 100,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.