Gates's New Postsecondary Leader

Foundation selects Daniel Greenstein, a top official in the University of California system, to lead its higher education program.

May 30, 2012

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has selected an architect of the University of California's online learning strategy to lead its efforts in postsecondary education.

Daniel Greenstein, vice provost for academic planning, programs and coordination at the UC system, will become director of the postsecondary success strategy at Gates, the foundation announced Tuesday. Greenstein will replace Hilary Pennington, who left the job in April after five years.

Greenstein, who has moved his way up through the academic hierarchy of the University of California president's office over the last decade after beginning his career as a librarian and historian, is known as a smart and intellectually curious person with an inclination toward what George H.W. Bush might have called "the vision thing."

Over the course of his career, he has offered prescriptions for the future of academic libraries and university presses, and he led organizations (in both Britain and the U.S.) focused on helping libraries transform their collections into digital formats.

But those who have worked with him say that Greenstein has a track record of executing on both his own visions and those he has adopted, as is the case with the University of California's efforts to expand undergraduate instruction through online education, which he has co-led.

And while Gates may have defined the areas on which it wants to focus over the next several years -- including some, like innovation and technology in which Greenstein has significant experience, and others, such as community colleges, in which he has relatively little -- how it works in those areas will need constant reframing to keep it on track, say several people familiar with the foundation's work.

"Gates does have a vision, and whoever is coming into that slot is going to have to operate in that vision," said Catherine Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons, who met Greenstein through her work as director of the open educational resources program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which funded UC's efforts. "But a vision like that has to be continually updated and refreshed, and the road will meander, and someone like Dan will be able to reframe and recalibrate the vision to keep it on track."

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Doug Lederman

Doug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He helps lead the news organization's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings and on campuses around the country, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, Doug had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug lives with his wife, Kate Scharff, in Bethesda, Md.

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