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The leaders of three dozen colleges and universities plus global consulting giant McKinsey & Co. and Strada Education Network, a nonprofit focused on the education-to-employment pipeline, announced a new group Monday called the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity.

Motivation for the group comes from the global pandemic, income inequality and the way the world of work is changing. An announcement also noted that unemployment for recent college graduates is nearly double what it was during the Great Recession of 2008. Fallout from these changes is disproportionately felt by people of color, regardless of educational background, the announcement added.

Collectively, members of the group account for 2.5 million students across the country. Its goals are to ensure student success, partner with local communities and reimagine how higher education is delivered.

Early actions discussed reflect at least in part a push toward more credentialism -- a first round of initiatives “will help prepare students for post-graduate employment through internships, mentoring, credentialing opportunities, and other professional development programs,” according to the announcement of the group. Early efforts will include “connecting students to internships and co-ops, subsidizing professional credentialing exam fees, and partnering with regional employers to develop certificates for students to gain before they graduate,” the group’s website says.

Individual members will have differing initiatives. The group intends to add members in the future.

A list of group members follows.

  • Mark Becker, president of Georgia State University
  • Gene D. Block, chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles
  • Seth Bodnar, president of the University of Montana
  • Bob Brown, president of Boston University
  • Ángel Cabrera, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College
  • Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University
  • Carol Folt, president of the University of Southern California
  • Joan Gabel, president of the University of Minnesota
  • Patrick Gallagher, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh
  • Kevin Guskiewicz, chancellor of the 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 the University of Rochester
  • Andrew Martin, chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis
  • Harold Martin, chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University
  • Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, chancellor of the City University of New York system
  • Gary May, chancellor of the University of California, Davis
  • Joe May, chancellor of Dallas College
  • James Milliken, chancellor of the University of Texas system
  • Mark Mitsui, president of Portland Community College
  • Darryll Pines, president of the University of Maryland at College Park
  • 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 the University of Arizona
  • Timothy Sands, president of Virginia Tech
  • Michael Schill, president of the University of Oregon
  • Kate Smith, president of Rio Salado College
  • Samuel L. Stanley Jr., president of Michigan State University
  • Astrid S. Tuminez, president of Utah Valley University
  • Gregory Washington, president of George Mason University
  • Ruth Watkins, president of the University of Utah and incoming president of Strada Impact
  • Federico Zaragoza, president of the College of Southern Nevada
  • Bill Hansen, CEO and president at Strada Education Network
  • André Dua, senior partner, McKinsey & Company