LCCC Wins National Honor for Improving Student Success

Press Release
Posted February 18, 2020

Today, Achieving the Dream (ATD) awarded Lorain County Community College (LCCC) the Leah Meyer Austin Award – ATD’s national prize reserved for network colleges that show greatest, sustained improvements in student outcomes and student success.  

“The Leah Meyer Austin award represents a decade long strategic priority this college has made to not only ensure access for all students, but to advance their academic and career success.  It is a proud moment to receive this highest distinction and to accept it on behalf of the students of Lorain County Community College and the community that supports us in delivering excellence in quality higher education,” said LCCC President Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D.

ATD gives this award annually to one or more colleges that employ a holistic approach to reducing equity gaps between student groups and increase student success for all. The award recognizes institutional strength, aligned policies and procedures, a student-focused culture and notable increases in student outcomes. LCCC has seen a 93 percent increase in the number of degrees and certificates awarded since 2011.  In fact, one third of all graduates from LCCC, since the college opened in 1963, have occurred in the last ten years.  Since 2011, LCCC has experienced a 149 percent increase in the number of degrees and certificates earned by Hispanic and Latinx students and a 123 percent increase in degrees and certificates earned by Black and African-American students, evidence of LCCC’s commitment to close achievement gaps.

“To be selected as a Leah Meyer Austin Award winner, a college must have the commitment to make big, bold changes throughout the institution,” said Karen A. Stout, Ph.D., President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Lorain County Community College has the courage to make those changes in everything that impacts the ability of their students to be successful.”

LCCC joined the Achieving the Dream network in 2011, was named an ATD “Leader College” in 2015 and achieved ATD “Leader College of Distinction” status in 2019. LCCC’s success is driven by its commitment to a “culture of care” to develop clear pathways for students on their journey to graduation. The College analyzed data which revealed opportunities for improvement – specifically around developmental education and advising. LCCC acted swiftly and redesigned developmental education, introduced case management advising, and designed academic and career pathways.

“The enhancements we were able to make allowed our campus to nurture and build a culture where every student’s dream matters, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. Every student is guided, intentionally, on a pathway to success,” said Ballinger.

“LCCC demonstrates a deep commitment to underserved populations and does an extraordinary job of reaching out to partners across multiple organizations to work better together to improve lives, neighborhoods and the community overall,” said Victor Leandry, executive director, El Centro de Servicios Sociales, Inc.  “I couldn’t be more proud of LCCC’s success and the work we do together.  This award is just further proof of LCCC’s value to our community.”

The prestigious Achieving the Dream award follows LCCC’s recent designation as one of the top 150 community colleges in the country by the Aspen Institute last fall – a designation that makes LCCC eligible to compete for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. Additionally, in 2018 LCCC was recognized by the American Association of Community Colleges as the Top Community College for Excellence in Student Success.

The national recognition provided by Achieving the Dream, the Aspen Institute and the American Association of Community Colleges supports LCCC’s dedication to its recently adopted strategic plan, Vision 2025, which sets a bold target to confer another 10,000 degrees by 2025 in order to ensure Lorain County residents are prepared for jobs of the future. This number of additional degrees will raise educational levels in order to meet employers’ workforce needs within the local and regional economy.

About the Leah Meyer Austin Award

The Leah Meyer Austin Award was established in 2008 to recognize outstanding achievement in supporting and promoting student success through the creation of a culture of evidence, continuous improvement, systemic institutional change, broad engagement of stakeholders, and equity, with particular attention to low-income students and students of color. The annual prize is given in honor of Leah Meyer Austin, former Senior Vice President for Program Development and Organizational Learning at the Lumina Foundation and Emerita Director of the ATD Board of Directors, whose visionary leadership shaped the development of Achieving the Dream.

Past Leah Meyer Austin Award winners have achieved significant national recognition including Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence winner Miami Dade College, and Aspen Rising Stars Pierce College and Palo Alto College.

About Achieving the Dream

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of 277 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia. 

About Lorain County Community College

Established in 1963, Lorain County Community College is the first community college in Ohio with a permanent campus.  For nearly decades, LCCC has served the diverse needs of the greater Lorain County region by providing affordable access to higher education and now serves 15,000 students each year at the associate degree level, 3,000 through its innovative University Partnership and thousands more in workforce development programs partnering with area employers.  LCCC’s College Credit Plus program is a leader in the state with 43% of 2019 Lorain County high school graduates earning some college credit from LCCC upon high school graduation, saving families $6.5 million in college costs.  LCCC is also the first community college in Ohio to be authorized to deliver an Applied Bachelor’s Degree in Microelectronic Manufacturing.  In 2018, the American Association of Community College recognized LCCC as the Top Community College for Excellence in Student Success.