Etcetera - 12/26/11

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The Seattle Times Editorials/Opinion page came out with congratulatory remarks for Walla Walla Community College on Dec. 14. And U.S. Sen. Patty Murray also commended the college at her website and in a Tweet.

Their comments were in response to WWCC being named one of the top four finalists with distinction for the inaugural nonprofit Aspen Institute Prize. The award was created to highlight colleges doing exceptional work.

The Times' editorial said, "college rankings and prizes crop up with numbing frequency, but Walla Walla Community College's designation as one of America's top five two-year schools is a well-deserved tribute to a fast-rising institution."

Graduates from WWCC in 2010 averaged about $54,000 per year, according to an Aspen Institute economic study. "That's outstanding compared with local new hires who were not graduates of the school and whose wages averaged only $20,000 a year," the Times wrote.

Also receiving kudos from the newspaper that owns the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and Yakima Herald Republic, was Steve VanAusdle, WWCC president, "for steering the school on a path closely aligned with the local labor market and for connecting academic programs to real jobs. A good example is the Center for Enology and Viticulture, which smartly complements Washington's thriving wine industry.

"Walla Walla also enjoys a fine record preparing students for further intellectual pursuits. Full-time, first-year students have a graduation and transfer rate that is 12 percent higher than the national average. Minority students do as well as nonminority students.

"This is the kind of success that ought to encourage the state Legislature to pursue more, not less, funding for higher education."

The senator complimented the college and the hard work of the president, faculty and staff and their partnerships with area organizations and businesses.

"Walla Walla is doing some of the most innovative work in the nation when it comes to connecting workers to local jobs and careers and tailoring their degree offering to meet the needs of the local economy. This is a model that works, and the Aspen Institute was absolutely correct to highlight these efforts as a model for the rest of the country," she said.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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