West Hills College District earns pair of California Innovation Awards

From West Hills College

West Hills Community College District has been named a winner of the California Innovation Awards for Higher Education for the second year in a row. This year, WHCCD earned two separate awards for two of its programs and is among 14 colleges statewide to be honored.

The honor comes with two monetary awards for $2 million and $1 million.

“Innovation is at the heart of what we do here at West Hills,” said Dr. Frank Gornick, WHCCD Chancellor.  “We are always in the process of evaluating and seeking to improve the programs we offer to students. We look to internal and external partnerships to help us achieve our goal – the relentless pursuit of student success. “

West Hills College is the only Central Valley college on the list and the only two-year college slated to receive two awards.

WHCCD was honored for two of its initiatives with the two awards.

The first award—which comes with $2 million—is for WHCCD’s prior learning program called Quick Path. WHCCD is working with San Joaquin Delta College, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and AcademyOne to implement the Quick Path Program, to develop a web-enabled prior learning assessment platform.

The second award—for $1 million— is to further a partnership with Bitwise Industries and California Forward geared toward offering job training for software developers through Bitwise’s Geekwise Academy. WHCCD has been working with Geekwise Academy since last year to train West Hills College students to become software developers.

“We are profoundly honored and humbled by the three-time recognition and we look forward to investing award dollars in ways that help our district respond to identified needs of our citizens, industries, and local and regional entities to address challenges facing the valley,” said Dr. Stuart Van Horn, Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development at West Hills Community College District.

A Select Committee appointed by the Department of Finance approved the list of 14 recipients and determined the funding to each of the colleges. The awards are for $1 million or $2 million, based on scores.

There were 41 entry applications from throughout the state.


The one-time awards will be used to fund further innovation and develop the award-winning programs as well as other innovative projects throughout the district.

“Both the Prior Learning Assessment platform and the Bitwise business partnership are expected to reduce the time it takes students to complete degrees and credentials and reduce the total cost of attendance for our students, which is the intent of the Award for Innovation,” said Anita Wright, WHCCD Director of Grants. 

The Innovation Award for Higher Education were created as an incentive to urge colleges to focus on innovative reforms to help students earn degrees. They recognize California districts and colleges that help reduce the time it takes students to complete degrees and credentials, reduce the total cost of attendance for students, or do both.

West Hills was previously recognized in 2015 for its unique advance-registration innovation, Reg365, which was launched in 2014 and allows students to register for classes for a full year, all at once. As a part of REG365 implementation, WHCCD put together an implementation guide outlining guidelines and best practices of an advanced registration system. Since the launch of the WHCCD Reg365 registration program, two additional California Community Colleges have embraced the model. 


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