Southwest Named 2021 National Finalist for Prestigious Bellwether Award

Joins nine community colleges from across the nation to compete for a coveted award at the virtual Community College Futures Assembly in January

By Diana Fedinec
November 5, 2020

Southwest Tennessee Community College is the only college in Tennessee to be selected as one of 10 national finalists to compete in the Planning, Governance and Finance category for the prestigious and highly competitive Bellwether Award.

Bellwether finalists represent leading community colleges whose outstanding and innovative programs and practices were selected among competitive submissions as exemplary. Southwest’s submission, Redesign, Reinvent, and Reset: Organizing for Large Scale Systemic Change, focuses on the progressive, scaffolding reform work the College initiated as an Achieving the Dream Leader College to transform the student experience and improve student-centered processes. Over the course of two years, 22 committees worked to redesign processes from recruiting to graduation, resulting in a living strategic plan that intentionally embraces a culture of equity and upward social mobility. The work reflects the challenges faced by students in an urban environment and maps out positive outcomes that students, regardless of their income or life experience, can achieve.

“We are thrilled to be selected among some of our nation’s most esteemed and innovative community colleges as a finalist for this prestigious recognition,” President Tracy D. Hall stated. “Our faculty and staff have worked diligently to reimagine Southwest and transform the student experience. Being named a Bellwether finalist is a magnificent affirmation of the dedicated, passionate work that has led to amazing achievements at Southwest over the past four years.”

Southwest will compete among nine other community colleges in its category in a rigorous, final round of review judged by thought leaders and skilled practitioners at the virtual 2021 Community College Futures Assembly in January, 2021. A panel of national experts will select one winner from each category. The assembly, now in its twenty-seventh year, convenes annually as an independent national policy forum for key higher education leaders to work as a “think tank” in identifying critical issues facing the future of community colleges, and to recognize Bellwether winners and finalists as trend-setting institutions.

“The Bellwether College Consortium prides itself on identifying and celebrating replicable, scalable and results-based programs and models and disseminating these highly lauded examples of institutional success to peer institutions,” said Dr. Rose Martinez, director of the Bellwether College Consortium.

The Consortium announced 20 other finalists in two additional categories – Instructional Programs and Services and Workforce Development. All finalists will be presented at the 2021 Community Colleges Futures Assembly and one winner will then be selected from each category by a panel of national experts.

2021 List of Bellweather Awards Finalists:

The Planning, Governance and Finance category recognizes programs or activities that improve efficiency and effectiveness in the community college. The following 10 institutions have been named finalists:

  • Southwest Tennessee Community College
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
  • Onondaga Community College
  • El Paso Community College
  • Blinn College District
  • Collin College
  • Pensacola State College
  • Broward College
  • Pima Community College
  • University of Arkansas Community College at Hope Texarkana

The Instructional Programs and Services category recognizes programs and services that foster or support teaching and learning in the community college. The following 10 institutions have been named finalists:

  • College of the Canyons
  • Pima Community College
  • Bossier Parish Community College
  • South Mountain Community College
  • Broward College
  • Naugatuck Valley Community College
  • Oxnard College
  • Reading Area Community College
  • Pima Community College
  • Madisonville Community College

The Workforce Development category identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. The following 10 institutions have been named finalists:

  • Houston Community College
  • Broward College
  • Pima Community College - HPOG
  • Rogue Community College
  • Oxnard College
  • San Jacinto College
  • Polk State College
  • South Mountain Community College
  • Pima Community College - USAF Paramedic
  • Holyoke Community College

The Bellwether College Consortium is a group of colleges charged with addressing the critical issues facing community colleges through applicable research and the promotion and replication of best practices addressing workforce development, instructional programs and services, and planning governance and finance. The Bellwether Award is proudly sponsored by the Alamo Colleges District in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, consult the Community College Futures Assembly website, www.bellwethercollegeconsortium.com or email rmartinez1702@alamo.edu.

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