February 15, 2022
Achieving the Dream (ATD) has awarded Tallahassee Community College the prestigious Leah Meyer Austin Award, the highest distinction a college in the ATD network can earn. The award is bestowed to one college annually that employs a holistic approach to reducing equity gaps between student groups and increasing success for all. The award recognizes institutional strength, aligned policies and procedures, a student-focused culture, and notable increases in student outcomes. This year’s award is accompanied by a $25,000 prize.
“The College’s selection as a Leah Meyer Austin Award winner is the result of the passionate efforts of faculty and staff who continue to put our students first in all matters,” said Dr. Jim Murdaugh, President of Tallahassee Community College. “The success of our students will always be our highest priority and driving force at TCC. These values will continue to shape the College’s efforts of always improving our programs. The Leah Meyer Austin Award process gives us another opportunity to look at our data, reflect on what we are doing and learn from other outstanding community colleges.”
TCC has been a part of the ATD network since 2004 and received the highly-regarded designation of being an ATD Leader College in 2009 before being recognized as a Leader College of Distinction in 2022. TCC is the only college in Florida to receive both the Leah Meyer Austin Award and the Leader College of Distinction designation. TCC was also named one of the top 10 colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute in 2021.
TCC’s success is driven by its commitment to the Culture of CARE. In September of 2019, more than 170 TCC faculty and staff gathered to answer the question, how might TCC redesign its student experience through an innovative model that removes barriers for all students to be successful? Campus-wide barriers and strategies were identified utilizing a design-thinking session that resulted in the development of the CARE model which focuses on four key areas that impact student learning and success: Connections, Academics, Resources, and Engagement.
· Connections refers to providing early, intentional and embedded experiences to help students find belonging
· Academics refers to offering clear academic pathways that ensure learning is occurring
· Resources provide the proper holistic supports to students helping to remove academic and life barriers
· Engagement helps students become involved in social and academic enrichment opportunities.
The aim of this model is to foster a culture of academic excellence, personalized learning, and student success that closes existing equity gaps and promotes economic and social mobility for all.
Achieving the Dream (ATD) is the national, nonprofit leader in championing evidence-based institutional improvement. ATD leads a growing network of more than 300 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 equity gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students.