The Project for Adult Education at Pierce College has been awarded a California Community Colleges Board of Governors 1992 Exemplary Program Award.
"It's quite an honor. We believed in it and now someone else believes in what we believe in," said Spanish instructor Tom O'Dea, founder of the program and PACE director until last year.
PACE was given special recognition because of the program's effect on students and the possibility of it being replicated by other colleges in the state, according to PACE Director Jeff Cooper.
The PACE program has been offering transfer-level courses for working adults since 1986. It meets the needs of students who are single heads of households and work full time, as well as students who traditionally have been underrepresented in post-secondary education.
The program allows students to carry 12 units with minimal job interference through weekly class sessions at night and Saturdays, both on and off campus. Students can complete the requirements for graduation and transfer in five semesters.
"There is a tremendous amount of support among the PACE students because they remain in the same sections and form study groups to work together. They really become like a big family," O'Dea said.
He said the time he spent working with the PACE program was one of the most rewarding experiences of his life.
"I wish every college in California had a program like this," he said. "That's what the Exemplary Program Award is for. To show it off and hope other colleges will follow suit."
The award is underwritten by the California Lottery, which donated the $4,000 given to the college, along with a plaque.
Cooper said the award money will be used for PACE needs such as audiovisual equipment and projection screens.
Each semester at Pierce, about 400 students are enrolled in the program, which was designed to maintain elevated academic standards as well as to fit into the adult student's time schedule, according to a letter by Pierce President Lowell Erickson in support of the program's nomination for the award.
Although PACE students accounted for only 2% of Pierce's total enrollment, they made up about 20% of the fall, 1991, Dean's List, Erickson said.