Mar 01, 2018

Columbia State Announced as Finalist in AACC Awards of Excellence for Advancing Diversity and Student Success

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. - Feb. 28, 2018) - - - Columbia State Community College was recently named by the American Association of Community Colleges as a finalist for the 2018 Awards of Excellence in both the advancing diversity and student success categories.

"It is an honor to be named a finalist for these prestigious awards," said Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president. "This speaks to the hard work and dedication from our faculty and staff to advance diversity and pursue student success."

In 2015 Columbia State used input from students, faculty and staff to define student success. From this input, Columbia State defined student success as the completion of educational, professional and personal goals resulting from increased knowledge and skills that encourages lifelong learning, responsible leadership and enhances the quality of life for self and others.

Columbia State offers more than 70 academic programs for students and collaborates with local universities to ensure the seamless transfer of credits between institutions. In addition, Columbia State students receive guidance from completion and peer coaches throughout their enrollment.

Columbia State is one of two Tennessee colleges to be on the student success finalist list. Other finalists in the student success category include Pellissippi State Community College (TN), Lorain County Community College (OH), Northeast Community College (NE), Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (AL) and Wayne Community College (NC).

Columbia State has always had a commitment to access and diversity and fosters an environment that is inclusive and respectful for all persons of different age, culture, gender identity, color, ethnicity, religion, disability and socioeconomic status. The college values the positive impact those differences have on the individual lives, communities, workplace interactions and overall societal influence.

In addition to educational inclusiveness, Columbia State encourages a variety of clubs, organizations and events that promote diversity. This shows the college's commitment to advancing diversity for the betterment of students, faculty and staff.

"Diversity at Columbia State is not a program," Smith said. "It is who we are as a higher education institution and it is about understanding and respecting our differences, which is integral to student success."

Columbia State is the only Tennessee college on the advancing diversity finalist list. Other finalists in the advancing diversity category include Community College of Aurora (CO), Lee College (TX), Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and Seminole State College of Florida.

The AACC created the Awards of Excellence program to recognize innovation and leadership among community colleges across the country that make a difference in the lives of students and members of their communities. Colleges are nominated in six categories, including advancing diversity, college safety and planning, student success, faculty innovation, CEO/board relationship and college/corporate partnership.

To learn more about the AACC, please visit

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