News Release

U of M joins 35 university leaders nationwide to launch Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity

Black iron gates along the sidewalk welcome visitors to the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus with a Maroon sign with Gold lettering spelling out "University of Minnesota"

Today, the University of Minnesota joined nearly 40 institutions to launch the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity. The University and Taskforce member partners are driven to act by the challenges caused by the pandemic, income inequality, the changing nature of work, and levels of unemployment among recent college graduates nearly double those seen in the 2008 recession. The impact of this crisis is falling unevenly across groups and disproportionately impacting students from disadvantaged communities, despite their educational background. The Taskforce will provide greater opportunity to students and communities, while reimagining higher education's contribution to society and sharing insights with the broader education community.

The Taskforce brings together leaders from across American higher education, including public, private, two-year, and four-year institutions that represent 2.5 million students nationwide. Taskforce members are focused on three key goals: ensuring student success despite the worst recession since World War II, partnering with local communities, and reimagining how higher education is delivered.

Schools will take individual and collective action to meet the shared mission of the Taskforce through new goals set every six months. Member institutions are now launching the first round of initiatives to prepare the graduates of 2021 - 2023 for success in the post-pandemic economy. In the coming months, Taskforce members will develop programs to support local communities, and additional programs will follow to reimagine the future of higher education and prepare students for work in a post-pandemic world.

University of Minnesota Goal One
The University is enhancing the U of M Employer Survey, an initiative aimed at improving student job readiness and institutional engagement with employer partners by informing practitioners, such as career coaches and students of employer and industry expectations. 

“As a result of this study, we know whether the academic and co-curricular experience we offer aligns with employer and industry expectations, specifically, those elements most and least important to our employers, which include the most per capita Fortune 500 companies in the nation,” said President Joan Gabel. “The uniqueness of this survey represents a new concept – higher education just doesn’t have this feedback,” Gabel continued.

Taskforce membership will continue to grow to diversify and scale impact with a focus on action – uniquely positioning the Taskforce in the higher education space. More about the Taskforce and member institutions' initiatives can be found at

Taskforce members include:

  • Mark Becker, President of Georgia State University
  • Gene D. Block, Chancellor of University of California, Los Angeles
  • Seth Bodnar, President of University of Montana
  • Bob Brown, President of Boston University*
  • Ángel Cabrera, President of Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Mary Schmidt Campbell, President of Spelman College*
  • Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University
  • Carol Folt, President of University of Southern California*
  • Joan Gabel, President University of Minnesota
  • Patrick Gallagher, Chancellor of University of Pittsburgh
  • Kevin Guskiewicz, Chancellor of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Andrew David Hamilton, President of New York University
  • Anne Kress, President of Northern Virginia Community College*
  • Paul LeBlanc, President of Southern New Hampshire University
  • Linda Livingstone, President of Baylor University
  • Sarah Mangelsdorf, President of University of Rochester
  • Andrew Martin, Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis
  • Harold Martin, Chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University
  • Gary May, Chancellor of University of California, Davis
  • Joe May, Chancellor of Dallas College
  • James Milliken, Chancellor of University of Texas System*
  • Mark Mitsui, President of Portland Community College
  • Darryll Pines, President of University of Maryland
  • Vincent Price, President of Duke University
  • Scott Pulsipher, President of Western Governors University*
  • Scott Ralls, President of Wake Technical Community College
  • Robert C. Robbins, President of University of Arizona*
  • Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Chancellor of City University of New York*
  • Timothy Sands, President of Virginia Tech
  • Michael Schill, President of University of Oregon
  • Kate Smith, President of Rio Salado College
  • Samuel Stanley, President of Michigan State University
  • Astrid S. Tuminez, President of Utah Valley University
  • Gregory Washington, President of George Mason University
  • Ruth Watkins, President of University of Utah
  • Federico Zaragoza, President of College of Southern Nevada
  • Bill Hansen, CEO and President at Strada Education Network
  • André Dua, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company*

*Indicates Taskforce Executive Committee Member and/or Goal 1 Initiative Lead

Media Contacts

Jake Ricker

University Public Relations
Tue, 03/16/2021 - 12:13
U of M joins 35 university leaders nationwide to launch Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities