Dr. Dhanfu Elston, senior vice president and chief of staff for Complete College America and Congressman Jim Costa hosted CVHEC Executive Director Dr. Benjamin Duran for CCA On The Hill Day in Washington DC May 16.
CVHEC among national higher education leaders
at Complete College America Day on the Hill
(WASHINGTON, May 17, 2023 – PRNewswire) — Dr. Benjamin T. Duran, executive director of the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium, joined national higher education leaders at the Complete College America (CCA) for its inaugural “CCA Day on the Hill” May 16.
Billed as a federal advocacy visit, the event brought leaders from state systems of higher education, colleges and other state and local organizations to Washington, D.C. to advocate for policies designed to help more students chart pathways to college access and completion.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic and a fast-changing economy and workforce, states have made incredible progress toward closing gaps in college access and completion over the past decade,” said Steven Gentile, chief policy officer at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “We need continued partnership from national leaders to help sustain that progress given the range of challenges facing students today. This is about sharing examples of how states are leading the way on higher education reform and finding common ground solutions to build a system of higher education that is more accessible—and also produces high-quality results for every student.”
The visit coincided with the first-ever national College Completion Day, a day of digital action celebrating college completion and retention. During a day of meetings, leaders discussed priorities for the pending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which has not been renewed or changed for nearly 15 years. Representatives from the coalition also raised awareness around Complete College America’s shared federal policy principles, which include saving students time and money by creating clearer pathways to a degree, meeting today’s students where they are, and removing unnecessary barriers to college completion.
Duran and Jessie Ryan, executive vice president for the Campaign for College Opportunity were the California reps. They met with Congressman, Jim Costa and Dr. Dhanfu Elston, Sr. Vice President and Chief of Staff at Complete College America.
“I was happy to join Complete College America advocates from throughout the country in our nation’s capitol for this important occasion to educate our elected officials on the most critical issues facing our colleges and universities,” Duran said. “I am grateful to our congressman, Rep. Jim Costa, who hosted me in his office to engage in a meaningful dialogue about higher education in the Central Valley.”
Charles Ansell, vice president for research, policy and advocacy at Complete College America, said, “The power of our work stems from states, networks, and institutions working together to solve the greatest challenges facing higher education today. This is about state and local leaders stepping forward to share their unique insights into how we can improve higher education—and create a system of higher education that better meets the needs of students, families and communities.”
The Complete College America’s membership includes more than 40 states and nine regional consortia, covering over one thousand institutions that serve more than 11.4 million students. A 2022 report from Complete College America found that between 2015 and today, almost all states in the Alliance have improved on-time graduation rates for students at both four-year institutions (+6 percentage points) and two-year institutions (+6 percentage points).
The state leaders participating in the inaugural CCA Day on the Hill included:
California: Benjamin T. Duran, Executive Director, Central Valley Higher Education Consortium; Jessie Ryan, Executive Vice President, The Campaign for College Opportunity
Florida: Tamsyn French, Associate Director, Student Financial Success, Florida Atlantic University
Maine: Janet M Sortor, Vice President & Chief Academic Officer, Maine Community College System; Rosa Redonnett, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Success and Credential Attainment, Univ of Maine System Montana: Antony Berthelote, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs; Salish Kootenai College
Nevada: Terina Caserto, Senior Analyst, Nevada System of Higher Education Renee Davis, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Nevada System of Higher Education
Oklahoma: Kylie Smith, Vice Chancellor for Administration, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Pennsylvania: Dr. Kate Shaw, Deputy Secretary and Commissioner, Pennsylvania Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education
Puerto Rico: Dr. Milagritos González, Professor, University of Puerto Rico-Mayageza, CCA Puerto Rico Lead
Tennessee: Steven Gentile, Chief Policy Officer, Tennessee Higher Education Commission
“Sustaining a national agenda for college completion requires colleges to make shifts in practice and priorities as well as changes to federal policies governing higher education,” said Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva, president of Complete College America. “It’s been fifteen years since we last saw a comprehensive, bipartisan Higher Education Act; it’s high time for policymakers to take action to overhaul our system of higher education to better meet the needs of today’s students, communities and employers.”
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For more information about CCA and to get involved, please visit CompleteCollege.org or contact Charles Ansell at email@example.com
About Complete College America: Complete College America (CCA) builds movements for scaled change and transforms institutions through data-driven policies, student-centered perspectives, and equity-driven practices. Since its founding in 2009, CCA connects a national network of forward-thinking state and higher education leaders and introduces bold initiatives to help states and institutions confront inequities, close institutional performance gaps, and increase college completion rates, especially for marginalized and historically excluded students. For more information, visit www.completecollege.org.
SOURCE Complete College America