LBWCC earns ‘Heisman’ of colleges recognition

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The student housing project for ‘Saints Hall’ earned the college a finalist spot in the competition.

The student housing project for ‘Saints Hall’ earned the college a finalist spot in the competition.

Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (LBWCC) was named a national Bellwether Finalist Winner and will be recognized by the Community College Futures Assembly in Orlando, Fla., in January.

The Bellwether Awards are an integral part of the Community College Futures Assembly, established in 1995. The Assembly is sponsored by the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida and focuses on cutting-edge, trendsetting programs that other colleges might find worthy of replicating.

The Bellwether Award has been compared to football’s Heisman Award because it is competitively judged and is an award given by peers in community colleges, with no cash award. It has also been called “the award of awards” because many institutions with programs that have won other awards apply for the Bellwether Award.  Previous recipients of the Bellwether Award have said that it has been a springboard for other types of recognition and/or funding.

LBWCC’s application titled “Transforming Campus Culture through Student Housing at a Rural Community College” resulted in the finalist designation in the planning, governance and finance category.

“As a finalist, we have the opportunity to make a presentation at the Futures Assembly, highlighting our project, the College, and our state for a national audience,” said LBWCC President Dr. Herb Riedel.

“We applied in this category because of the strong collaboration in bringing the new Saints Hall student housing to reality, located adjacent to the Andalusia campus. In addition, it is a strategy that can be replicated by other colleges that wish to experience the benefits.”

“Just to be included in the top 10 in the nation is great recognition for the college, the Foundation, the State of Alabama, and all those involved in the development of Saints Hall student housing,” said Riedel.

“This project resulted in a win-win situation for LBW and our students. It benefits our students not once, but twice. It provides much-needed housing, and the profits earned return directly to the LBWCC Foundation for use in funding scholarships and other college projects.

We are thrilled to be able to tell our colleagues across the nation about this successful endeavor.”

Alabama Community College System Chancellor Dr. Mark Heinrich said the finalist designation is an honor.

“LBW’s recognition as a Bellwether Finalist is a monumental accomplishment and a tribute to your leadership,” said Heinrich as he congratulated Dr. Riedel. “This honor underscores the work ethic and commitment of your entire campus community. I am very proud for you and your college.”

Competition for the prestigious Bellwether Award is among all community colleges in the nation, with 10 finalists selected in each of the three categories.  The awards are given annually in three categories to colleges with outstanding and innovative programs or practices. Only 10 finalists are named in each of the three categories of instructional programs and services; planning, governance and finance; and workforce development.

The College worked closely with the LBWCC Foundation through the idea development phase, with the Foundation obtaining a suitable lot through a partial donation. Other collaborative efforts involved city, state and federal leaders with obtaining building permits, tax-exempt status through the legislature, and funding through the Community Facilities Loan Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office.