Alamo Colleges District wins 2018 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

Photo of College Presidents and Board Trustees

On November 15, 2018, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross today named the Alamo Colleges District a 2018 recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA), marking a significant milestone in the district's ongoing journey to achieve the highest level of student success and performance excellence. A presidential-level honor celebrating its 31st anniversary, the award recognizes sustainable excellence through visionary leadership, organizational alignment, systemic improvement, and innovation. The award is the most prestigious honor a higher education institution can achieve for performance excellence in innovation, efficiency, and leadership.

The Alamo Colleges District is one of only five organizations to receive the award this year and is the first community college system to achieve this level of recognition in the history of the program. It is also one of only 12 organizations from 27 applicants to receive a site visit this year and one of only four in education.

“We are ecstatic to have achieved this milestone in our journey to fulfill our vision of becoming ‘the best in the nation in student success and performance excellence',” said Alamo Colleges Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores. “This award was made possible by the hard work and dedication of our outstanding faculty, administrators and staff who collaborated effectively for many years to bring us to this moment. There are no words to express the gratitude and pride that the board and myself feel as we celebrate the culmination of our efforts, which will benefit our students, our organization and our community for years to come,” Flores added.

This elite designation is for organizations that undergo a rigorous examination of their business processes using the internationally recognized best practice Baldrige Excellence Framework. In October, ACD hosted a team of examiners who met with staff at the district, its five colleges, and off-site locations and developed a comprehensive report highlighting strengths and weaknesses in seven categories: leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, knowledge management, workforce focus, operations focus, and results.

“These awardees are inspiring in so many ways,” Ross said. “Each honoree strengthens our economy through its organizational excellence and positive impacts for its customers, students, patients, and employees. They exemplify the American spirit in action and are role models for success in business and commerce.” ACD has been on its performance excellence journey for many years. The Alamo Colleges DSO and four of the district's colleges have been awarded the Texas Award for Performance Excellence (TAPE) by the Quality Texas Foundation, which follows the Baldrige framework and is required to apply for the MBNQA. In 2016, the DSO was one of three organizations in the state to receive the TAPE. St. Philip’s College was one of only two organizations in the state to receive the 2018 TAPE and the only educational institution to win the award since 2016.

Palo Alto College netted the award in 2015 and was the only educational organization to win the award since 2011 and the first in higher education to win since 2007 when Northwest Vista College was honored with the TAPE. Northwest Vista College was chosen for a Baldrige site visit in 2011 and 2012; Palo Alto College received one in 2016, and the entire district was chosen for a site visit this year.

Alamo Colleges District
Baldrige Feature
Five Role-Model Organizations Win 2018 Baldrige National Quality Award
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What is Baldrige?

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is a national public-private partnership run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Baldrige Program educates organizations in performance excellence management and administers the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award the nation's highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership.

The Baldrige Program's main focus areas are to help organizations achieve best-in-class levels of performance; identify and recognize role-model organizations; identify and share best management practices, principles, and strategies.

Why did we apply for the national Baldrige Award?
  • The Baldrige award process enables us to evaluate our entire organization through a team of trained third-party examiners.
  • We will receive a feedback report indicating the areas for us to continue to improve and accelerate our journey to excellence.
  • Use of the Baldrige Criteria correlates strongly with improved outcomes.

Our goal is to improve the Alamo Colleges District system by improving in all areas. We want to be the best we can be in meeting the needs of all our stakeholders. Consequently, we have assessed ourselves against the Baldrige Criteria as a way to obtain actionable feedback to accelerate our journey towards performance excellence.

Examiners will assess our entire organization. They will identify the strengths they find as well as our opportunities for improvement. They will also identify exemplary areas that we could share as "best practices" with other organizations of higher education in the nation.

Baldrige Feedback Report

All Baldrige award applicants receive detailed feedback from the Baldrige examiners.  Feedback Reports often contain comments on as many as 100 areas of strength and opportunity.  Surveys show that more than 90% of applicants use the received feedback in their strategic planning and decision making.

Our Journey Toward Excellence

In order to be eligible to apply for the Baldrige Award, organizations must earn the award at their respective state level. The Alamo Colleges District DSO submitted an application for the Texas Award for Performance Excellence (TAPE) – led by the Quality Texas Foundation – in October 2015, received a site visit in January 2016 and was awarded the 2016 TAPE later that year.

The award was the culmination of a nine-year journey and reflected the outstanding dedication of all DSO and college teams and the strong leadership of the Board of Trustees. TAPE recipients are selected based on the same performance criteria used at the national level for the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, which awards the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

As a state awardee, the district was then eligible to submit its application for the 2018 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in April 2018. Demonstrating the relevance and value of the Baldrige Excellence Framework to organizations of multiple sizes and sectors, a few awards are given annually across six industries (manufacturing, service, small business, education, health care, and nonprofit) representing every major region of the United States.

Innovation Highlights


Alamo Colleges District advisors undergo extensive, rigorous training to receive their certification.

They strive to be current on employment trends and skills needed in the workplace and figuring out roadmaps tailored to the individual needs of each student.

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At the Alamo Colleges District, we dare our students to dream with a purpose and start their journey in one of our six new Institutes.

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4DX Franklin Covey - Time Matrix

How do we consistently put first things first to create the results we want in work and life?

It starts with understanding the return on your time and energy represented by the time matrix.

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Alamo Colleges District Highlight

We are not one college with many campuses. We are one district with five independently accredited colleges with a very unique challenge.

That challenge required a different culture and structure to achieve our purpose and vision.

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Here’s a list of other recent Alamo Colleges District Innovation Highlights:



Alamo Academies

Alamo Way Leadership Model





Alamo University Center


BAM (Budget Alignment Methodology)

College Connection

Data Days

Debt Management Plan

Decision-Making Model

Dual Credit

Early College High School

Education and Training Centers

Emerging Leaders Program

Experiential Learning

Hunger Banquet

I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training)

Jessica’s Project

Math Pathways



Strategy Map

Student-Driven Financial Literacy

Student Leadership Institute (SLI)

Student Peer Advisory

Student Trustee

Sustainability Program

VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)

Workforce Center of Excellence

Thank You!

Thanks again to everyone involved in the Baldrige 2018 Site Visit.

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