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9/22/2015 - Jackson, Miss.

The benefits of earning a college degree are well-documented: higher earnings, lower unemployment, greater civic involvement and better health are just a few of the benefits enjoyed by those who earn a postsecondary degree. Getting across the finish line is not always easy. Students face challenges both inside the classroom and beyond.

Helping students overcome these challenges and graduate is the focus of an upcoming conference for community college and university educators from across the state. Sponsored by Mississippi Public Universities, the Mississippi Community College Board and Complete College America, Mississippi's College Completion Conference will be held Monday, September 28 and Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at the Mississippi e-Center, Jackson State University, 1230 Raymond Road, Jackson, Miss.

"Increasing educational attainment is a very important issue for our university system and our state," said Dr. Glenn F. Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. "This conference provides us with the opportunity to bring together national leaders in the field with the educators who work directly with the students. Our goal is to help every student graduate in a timely manner and these discussions will help us explore ways we can improve the programs and services offered to help achieve this goal."

The conference will begin with a luncheon featuring welcome remarks from Dr. Carolyn Meyers, President, Jackson State University; Dr. Glenn F. Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education and Deborah J. Gilbert, Interim Executive Director of the Mississippi Community College Board.

"Study after study shows how important it is for students to earn a degree from a postsecondary institution, whether it is a community college or a university," said Deborah J. Gilbert, Interim Executive Director for the Mississippi Community College Board. "In today's global economy, it is simply not good enough for someone to have only a high school diploma. By bringing together folks from the community colleges and universities, we will be able to formulate strategies to help our students complete college which will lead to a better life for them and their families. This will also improve Mississippi."

Dr. Bruce Vandal, Senior Vice President, Complete College America, and Dr. Dhanfu Elston, Vice President, Complete College America, will discuss Game Changers: Completion Opportunities for Mississippi at the luncheon.

"Mississippi is poised to make extraordinary gains in improving college completion and closing achievement gaps," said Dr. Dhanfu Elston, Vice President, Complete College America. "We look forward to working together and sharing information about our Game Changers strategies and the remarkable results we are seeing around the country."

Other featured topics include:

  • Leveraging Completion Metrics for Change, Dr. Bruce Vandal
  • Corequisite Remediation, Dr. Bruce Vandal
  • Full-Time is 15, Dr. Dhanful Elston
  • GPS Route 1: The Path Forward, Dr. Larry Abels, Director of the Institute for Academic Leadership, State University System of Florida and Provost, Florida State University

In addition to the presentations, attendees will have the opportunity for breakout sessions for action planning based on the information and ideas shared at the conference. The conference will close with remarks from Dr. Boyce and Dr. Gilbert.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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