USM and MHEC Present 'Stride to 55' Conference to Focus on Degree Completion and Transforming the Postsecondary Learning Experience


 Baltimore, MD (November 6, 2014) – The University System of Maryland (USM) and the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), working with an extensive group of higher education partners throughout Maryland, will host Stride to 55: The Practice and Policy Journey to Completion and Academic Transformation. The conference will bring together education leaders and policymakers from across Maryland to share how degree completion efforts and policy changes are transforming learning experiences. 

This 2nd annual convening will take place on Friday, November 7, 2014 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center adjacent to the campus of University of Maryland University College, 3501 University Blvd., Hyattsville, MD.

Early in his Administration, Governor O’Malley challenged Maryland’s colleges and universities to engage in a statewide college completion campaign so that, by 2025, at least 55% of Maryland residents ages 25-64 will hold at least an associate’s degree. MHEC and the Segments of Higher Education* have made this goal a priority and have encompassed it into their strategic initiatives such as MHEC’s 2013-2017 State Plan for Postsecondary Education ~ Maryland Ready and USM’s Powering Maryland Forward 2020 Strategic Plan in order to make continual progress towards our shared objective. 

Discussions will center on how state, federal, and philanthropic organizations and stakeholders are working together to increase the number of postsecondary degrees earned and enhance student outcomes. The conference will highlight the most effective policies and practices, and identify ways to more efficiently transform the higher education landscape for current and future generations of students. 

Throughout the completion forum, there will be a cadre of dynamic speakers and panelists, including: 

- Governor Martin O’Malley

- Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education

- Jeff Selingo, Acclaimed Author, and Journalist

- Stan Jones, President, Complete College America

- Anne Keehn, Senior Fellow, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

There will also be an array of leaders representing postsecondary education across the State. Notable guests include Catherine Shultz, Acting Secretary of Higher Education, William “Brit” Kirwan, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, and many two and four-year, public and private college and university presidents. Additionally, attendees will be afforded the opportunity to learn

about many of the exciting statewide and campus-based initiatives taking place in Maryland during the morning and afternoon concurrent breakout sessions.

“If we are to continue making progress forward, we must continue to work alongside our PreK-12 partners, develop new strategies, streamline current policies, and share best practices that will enable us to achieve our statewide attainment goal,” said Catherine Shultz, Acting Secretary of Higher Education. “Stride to 55 will provide us an opportunity to continue building on our momentum in addressing the diverse array of challenges that prevent student completion and success.

If you are interested in covering the event or interviewing any participants, for ease of coordination, please touch base with Mike Lurie, Media Relations and Web Manager, at, 301.445.2719 (office), or 301.502.4720 (cell). 



The Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) is Maryland’s postsecondary education coordinating board responsible for the management of statewide financial aid programs and the establishment of statewide policies for public and private colleges and career schools to support students’ postsecondary pursuits.

Contact: Mike Lurie

Phone: (301) 445-2719


 Contact: Phyllis T. Reese

 Phone: (410) 767-7589


*The six segments of postsecondary education are as follows: the University System of Maryland, the Maryland Association of Community Colleges, the Maryland Independent College and University Association, Morgan State University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and the Maryland Association of Private Colleges and Career Schools.



Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719