Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success

February 5, 2018

Special Message from the Director

By Dan Greenstein

I wanted to share the news with you that I am stepping down as Director of the Postsecondary Success strategy. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy for the opportunity to work with an immensely talented team and committed partners like you to close the equity gaps in higher education so that race, income, and zip code no longer determine a student’s chance for success.

It was almost six years ago that I joined the foundation. We always knew this work would not be easy. It isn’t, and there is still so much more to do. We chose to focus on helping institutions transform themselves to better serve many more of today’s college students, and raise the unmet needs of low-income and first-generation students, students of color and working adults. We’ve all said countless times that college access is not enough. Success is maintaining that access for all and completion that leads to a career that supports a productive and sustaining life for them and their families. It’s a ticket to the middle class.

I am in awe of the direction we have set, and the progress we have made together. Thank you for your partnership, insights and energy. More of the country than ever understands the needs of today’s students and gaps for completion. Many visionary leaders, partners and institutions are working to create fundamental change, and we see it spreading.

I’m proud of our work together on innovations, many of which are taking off across higher education as colleges seek to serve all their students better and more affordably. We’ve seen particular promise in digital learning, in technologies that support and improve student advising, in more effective, new approaches to developmental education, and in the use of highly structured and carefully guided academic pathways. And our pipeline for innovation is far from exhausted.

I’m excited by the results we see in so many colleges and universities that are integrating these innovations and showing remarkable gains – graduating more students, reducing and in some cases eliminating attainment gaps.

I am humbled by the remarkable change agents who work to make this progress happen, even in the face of tremendous pressures. We have sought to support these heroic leaders, and to shine a light on their vision and determination, as we raise up what’s working across a tremendously diverse field.

At the same time, I am inspired by the work our partners are doing advancing state and federal public policies that benefit students we care most about – policies on financial aid, so vital given the surging cost of higher education and mounting student debt – and the development of national data systems, without which we cannot track higher ed’s performance, let alone improve it.

With our strategy now set, sharp, and scaling, it’s an opportune time for my transition. You are in good hands. Our Postsecondary Success team, with its tremendous creativity and tenacity, ensures continued progress, and provides a strong foundation for the next director, and for you, to continue this work.

My last day as Director is March 15, but I’ve agreed to take on a handful of Postsecondary and U.S. Program-wide projects over the coming months to help improve the foundation’s work going forward. I wish you all the best, and sincerely hope that our paths will cross again before too long.