Higher education leaders in New England will gather today alongside national experts to discuss strategies that increase student retention and graduation in the region. The event – hosted by the New England Board of Higher Education and national nonprofit Complete College America (CCA) – kicks off a region-wide event to better support students in their first year of college and significantly increase their likelihood of graduating.

The event represents collaboration between Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island. Each state is being led by a Complete College State team comprised ofhigher education leaders who were selected to guide college completion efforts throughout the region. In addition to leading state efforts, the teams will participate in CCA’s annual convenings and summits, sharing insights with a national network of states, systems, regions and institutions and collaborating with college completion experts to accelerate their work.

Today’s event – which is being held at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel – will bring together more than 150 faculty, staff and administrators from public postsecondary institutions in the New England region.

“Leaders from across New England will come together at CCA’s Momentum Convening to share promising practices that seek to improve access, retention, and completion rates,” said Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Chief of Staff Elena Quiroz-Livanis. “The event will allow campus faculty and administrators, as well as state policy makers, to learn about what approaches institutions from different states are implementing in order to help students succeed.”

Participants will hear from Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Student Success for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Patricia Marshall, Associate Vice Chancellor of Finance and Strategic Planning of the Community College System of New Hampshire Charles Ansell, and CCA Vice President Sarah Ancel.

In addition, Hellen Tate of Wingate University, Loretta Griffy of Austin Peay State University, and Amy Getz from the Charles A. Dana Center will discuss strategies and share insights on effective implementation of proven student success strategies.

The event will focus on 15 to Finish, advisor training and the use of degree maps. 15 to Finish – a research-based initiative originally launched in Hawaii – encourages students to take 15 credit hours per semester or 30 per year, increasing their likelihood of success and ensuring that they graduate on time. Efforts around advisor training and degree maps will focus on simplifying the maze of academic courses and student requirements through the use of semester-by-semester academic maps, designing support services that increase success for adult learners, and creating structured schedules that allow students to better balance work, life, and academics.

“Complete College America’s New England Momentum Convening will be a milestone in a collaborative approach towards increasing student completion in the region,” said Associate Vice Chancellor of Finance and Strategic Planning of the Community College System of New Hampshire Charles Ansell. “As much as a learning experience, this Momentum event will be one that galvanizes action, and redoubles commitment to strategies and initiatives around student success.”

Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island have committed to working with Complete College America to increase the percentage of New England residents with a postsecondary credential. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire have participated extensively in scaling key components of this initiative such as reforming remedial math and English.

“More than any other time in our history, a college degree may be the single most important factor in providing greater access to the American Dream,” said CCA President Tom Sugar. “This effort ensures that Dream can become a reality for many more of New England’s residents, empowering students to start their college career with momentum and supporting them with proven strategies as they work toward graduation day.”

Complete College Team Leads

  • Ross Gittell, Chancellor, Community College System of New Hampshire– New Hampshire Team Lead
  • Yasmine Ziesier, Chief Academic & Academic Technology Officer, Vermont State Collges– Vermont State Lead
  • Elena Quiroz-Livanis, Chief of Staff,  Massachusetts Department of Higher Education,- Massachusetts Team Lead
  • Kimberly Bright, Chief of Staff, Rhode Island Office of Post-Secondary Education- Rhode Island Team Lead
  • Janet Sortor, Chief Academic Office, Maine Community College System- Maine Team Lead
  • Jane Gates, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Connecticut  State Colleges and Universities- Connecticut Team Lead