Redefining Success Beyond Wealth, Respect or Fame

August 28, 2015

Strayer University’s New ‘Readdress Success’ Initiative Seeks Public’s Help to Officially Revise Merriam-Webster’s Definition of ‘Success’


Herndon, VA – August 24, 2015 - Strayer University, with the support of business executives, social influencers, athletes and journalists, today announced ‘Readdress Success,’ a new initiative that seeks to officially revise Merriam-Webster’s current definition of ‘success,’ stated as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect or fame.” The initiative stems directly from a nationwide survey Strayer conducted last year, which found 90% of Americans define success as more about happiness than about power, possessions or prestige. Based on these findings, which also indicated that six in ten Americans believe success means attaining personal goals, having good relationships and loving what you do for a living, a more accurate definition of success would be expanded to “happiness derived from good relationships and the attainment of personal goals.”

“Today’s official definition of success doesn’t reflect the reality of how Americans think about, discuss and ultimately pursue success,” said Brian W. Jones, president of Strayer University. “If we take it literally, it would mean people who love their jobs, have happy families or help their communities aren’t successful. This is a dangerous notion as it can lead people to believe they are unsuccessful because they haven’t amassed a certain amount of wealth or fame. Our belief is that there are many definitions of and paths to success and that all journeys to success are unique and should be celebrated. We believe the official definition of success should reflect that.”

To inspire immediate participation, Strayer University has launched a petition through that aims to draw as much attention from Merriam-Webster to the initiative as possible while simultaneously inspiring people to join in and share the movement with their friends. Every signature collected on the petition will amount to a 50 cent donation to charity partner Dress for Success, an international not-for-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.


Strayer will also be releasing exclusive content over the course of the next few months to inspire national and potentially global conversations about success through guest written articles and inspirational online videos featuring well-known influencers like former NFL Hall of Fame nominee Charles Mann, Super Bowl championship coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, and BET founder Bob Johnson, among many others. The content will also include ‘person on the street’ video interviews about success and candid conversations with children about what success means to them to offer a perspective from the general public.

“Our intention since launching the ‘Success Project’ last year was never to change the definition of success, but rather to inspire people to turn inward and think about what success means to them personally,” said Karl McDonnell, CEO of Strayer Education, Inc. “But the more we talk with our working adult students and become a part of their lives, and the more we delve into this ongoing movement, we have discovered that a critical and real change needs to happen in the way we talk about success. Certainly Americans are feeling it and thinking about it in these broadened ways and Strayer University, as an innovator in higher education, wants to be part of that dialogue.”

To take part in Strayer University’s ‘Readdress Success’ initiative and to sign the petition, visit


# # #

***MEDIA NOTE: To speak with Karl McDonnell or Brian W. Jones, please contact Cristina Henley at, work: (703) 561-1913, or cell: (703) 431-3691.


About Strayer University

Strayer University has been in operation since 1892, and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267-284-5000). The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business administration, accounting, economics, information systems, information technology, human resource management, education, health services administration, public administration, management and criminal justice to working adult students. The University includes Strayer@Work, which serves corporate clients by delivering the next generation of performance improvement and workforce development. Strayer University also offers an executive MBA online through its Jack Welch Management Institute. For more information, visit or call 1-888-4-STRAYER (888-478-7293).


About Dress for Success

Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Since starting operations in 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to more than 140 cities in 20 countries. To date, Dress for Success has helped more than 850,000 women work towards self-sufficiency. Visit to learn more.

Contact Us

Strayer Media Relations




At Strayer University there are many ways to get credit for your knowledge, professional skills, and past college courses.


  • Previous College Credit
  • Credit by Exam
  • Experiential Learning
  • Certifications, Licenses, Corp Training
  • Military Credits