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Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to Keynote Complete College America 2018 Annual Convening

State leader, known for revolutionary approach to higher education, to address more than 500 education leaders from around the country


November 16, 2018

National nonprofit Complete College America (CCA) announced today that Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee will present the keynote speech at its 2018 Annual Convening next month. Governor Haslam will address more than 500 of the nation’s higher education leaders and advocates at the event focused on college completion efforts.

Governor Haslam has spearheaded transformative student success efforts in Tennessee for more than a decade, extending back to his launch of the Knox Achieves program as mayor of Knoxville. The program, which provides tuition assistance to Knox County high school seniors who enroll in local community colleges, ultimately influenced the Tennessee Promise program which Haslam signed into law in 2015. In tandem with the Tennessee Reconnect program, Tennessee became the first state in the nation to offer high school graduates and adults two years of community or technical college free of tuition and mandatory fees.

Record applications for these initiatives are strong early indicators the state will meet Haslam's “Drive to 55” goal of increasing the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or credential to 55 percent by 2025.

“In Tennessee, we’ve determined that the best jobs plan is an education plan. If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans, we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs, and there is no smarter investment than increasing access to high quality education,” said Haslam. “Through Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, we are sending a clear message: whether you are high school graduate or an adult without a degree or certificate, education beyond high school can change the trajectory of your life.”

Following his address, newly-appointed CCA President Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva will present Governor Haslam and the state of Tennessee with the inaugural Stan Jones Legacy Award, named for the nonprofit’s founder, for his commitment to boosting graduation rates, creating greater opportunity for all Tennesseans and setting a national exemplar for state-based approaches to prioritizing college completion.

“Tennessee was an early adopter of CCA strategies and has made great strides in closing achievement gaps and helping more students complete college,” said Watson Spiva. “Governor Haslam has continued Tennessee’s commitment to student success throughout his term. We are proud to have such a valuable partner keynote our Annual Convening this year.”

The 2018 Annual Convening will take place December 4-6 at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. The theme of the 2018 Convening is “Impact,” and will focus on the college reform work and successes of CCA’s 45 Alliance Member states, systems and consortia across the United States.

A live stream of the 2018 Annual Convening will be available. For more information on the event, visit

About Complete College America

Established in 2009, Complete College America is a national nonprofit focused on significantly increasing the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and closing attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations. For more information, visit


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