After years of being among the best in the nation, Watertown’s Lake Area Technical Institute is regarded as the top community college in the United States.

The Aspen Institute’s self-proclaimed mission is to push the boundaries of intellect, develop leaders and work toward making the world a better place. One of their objectives is to recognize the best two-year schools.

Lake Area Technical Institute has been a mainstay on the top ten list for all four years that Aspen has presented their yearly prize. One other institution, West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, also has that distinction.

By obtaining the top prize, LATI will also receive $600,000 cash as a reward for their commitment to building graduates that thrive once they finish their studies. During the award ceremony, President Mike Cartney encouraged the entire group of two-year institutions to work as a team in their endeavor.

“Through this process we’re moving from 1,100 community colleges individually striving for excellence toward 1,100 community colleges working together to help our students, to better our communities and to raise our nation. The future is 1,100 community colleges working together to do our best.”

It’s not just the Aspen Institute that has recognized what LATI has been able to accomplish. Then President Barack Obama gave the 2015 commencement address in Watertown to highlight the role of technical education in the United States.

Two other schools in the region was a finalist for the Aspen Prize. Northeast Community College of Norfolk, Nebraska made the top ten for the first time as did Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.


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