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Gov. Bill Haslam's has carved out a new position to take on one of Tennessee's biggest education challenges.

And it has its first leader.

Mike Krause, who currently serves as assistant executive director for academic affairs at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, is set to take on the new role of executive director of the governor's "Drive to 55" initiative to push the percentage of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials to 55 percent by 2025.

That includes launching and implementing Tennessee Promise, which beginning in 2015 will offer free tuition at community college to the state's high school graduates.

Haslam, who announced the position Wednesday, recently concluded seven signing ceremonies to commemorate what is one of his signature policies.

Krause, a former policy analyst for the Tennessee General Assembly who completed three combat tours in Iraq as a member of the 101st Airborne Division, coordinated the state's Drive to 55 efforts while at the higher education commission.

He will begin his new job June 22.

"Now that the Tennessee Promise is law, the hard work of making it a reality begins, and I can't think of anyone better suited to bring expertise and enthusiasm to its launch than Mike Krause," Haslam said. "Mike has played a key role in developing and implementing Drive to 55 initiatives and the Tennessee Promise so far, and I'm excited to see these efforts grow with his guidance."

Krause, who lives in Thompson Station, earned his bachelor's degree from Austin Peay State University and has a master's in public policy from Vanderbilt University.

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