Daniel Greenstein, who has overseen the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's work on postsecondary education since 2012, announced Monday that he would leave the foundation next month.
"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," he said in an email message to Gates colleagues.
Greenstein, who came to the foundation after nearly a decade in the University of California's central office, has overseen a perceptible (if subtle) transformation in which the foundation has been seen less as an arrogant know-it-all imposing its vision and more as a prodder of and partner to colleges and universities.
Greenstein's essays in Inside Higher Ed might be seen as a reflection of that evolution. Here's one he wrote in 2013, called "Change Is Coming," which embraced the trendy idea that without significant technological change, many colleges faced extinction. Its opening line: "That college you have your eye on for your teenager? It may be going out of business. Your alma mater, too."
A 2017 essay had a decidedly different tone. While it argued that American higher education focuses way too much on exclusion, it underscored the importance of giving more Americans a meaningful postsecondary education and celebrated several institutions doing successful and important work.
In his staff note announcing his departure, Greenstein said he was cheered by "the results we see in so many colleges and universities that are integrating … innovations and showing remarkable gains -- graduating more students, reducing and in some cases eliminating attainment gaps."