Governor, TBR Vice Chancellor to speak at Obama’s College Opportunity Summit Thursday

Dr. Tristan Denley headshot

On Thursday, Dec. 4, Governor Bill Haslam, who serves as chairman of the Tennessee Board of Regents, and Dr. Tristan Denley, TBR vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, will join President Obama, the First Lady and Vice President Biden at the White House College Opportunity Summit. The Summit will bring together colleges and universities, business leaders, nonprofits and others that are committed to supporting more college opportunities for students across the country.

This year’s summit will focus on building sustainable collaborations in communities with strong K-12 and higher education partnerships to encourage college going, and supporting colleges to work together to dramatically improve persistence and increase college completion, especially for first generation, low-income, and underrepresented students.

Governor Haslam is expected to provide information about Tennessee’s efforts, including his Tennessee Promise last-dollar tuition-free scholarship program for high school graduates to attend a community or technical college.

Dr. Denley is expected to discuss intensive approaches to help increase college completion rates among students. 

Dr. Denley earned national recognition for designing and implementing the Degree Compass software program using predictive analytics to increase student retention in college by helping them select courses they need and would most likely complete. His work has been recognized by Educause, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and in a host of national media reports. His efforts to restructure remediation programs resulted in joint recognition by the Dana Center, Complete College America, Education Commission of the States, and Jobs for the Future as a national model for developmental education. 

TBR Chancellor John Morgan participated in the first White House College Opportunity Summit in January of this year. He joined President Obama in announcing commitments to help more students afford and graduate from college with quality education and skills.

Many TBR campuses have already begun focusing on increasing the pool of students preparing for college with early intervention programs. TBR recently announced a system-wide effort to develop guided pathways to success to help guide students toward finishing their degrees successfully and on time. TBR institutions are also implementing programs that help students who are underprepared – especially those who need help with math, English and reading.

For more information on Dr. Denley, please contact

For more information on the Summit, please contact and include “College Opportunity Summit Coverage” in the subject line.

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.