Baylor University Among 36 University Leaders Nationwide To Launch Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity

March 16, 2021
Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (March 16, 2021) – Baylor University joined nearly 40 institutions in launching the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity, announced Friday by the Taskforce member institutions. Baylor and its Taskforce member partners are charged to address many of 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 following the 2008 recession.

Baylor’s delegation on the Taskforce consists of Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., Baylor University President, and Robyn Driskell, Ph.D., Baylor University Vice President for Internal Administration and Compliance and Chief of Staff.

With students from disadvantaged communities carrying a disproportionate burden from this crisis, regardless of education levels, the Taskforce will work proactively to provide greater opportunity to those students and communities, while reimagining higher education’s contribution to society.

Baylor is joined on the Taskforce by leaders from across American higher education, including public, private, two-year and four-year institutions that represent 2.5 million students nationwide. Taskforce member partners are focused on three key goals: ensuring student success, 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 their respective communities. Additional programs will follow to reimagine the future of higher education and prepare students for work in a post-pandemic world.

“As Baylor University progresses towards R1 status as a preeminent research university, we believe that our institution is positioned to help find solutions to some of the world’s most meaningful challenges,” President Livingstone said. “Our initial goal with the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity focuses on a global challenge facing students and graduates in the post-pandemic economy: promoting degree completion among underrepresented students who have withdrawn and left their academic work incomplete.”

In its first action as a Taskforce member, Baylor has made a strong commitment to improving degree completion among underrepresented students who dropped out or did not return to the University. In order to facilitate students finishing their education at Baylor, the initiative will offer specialized support for non-returning students, including tailored outreach programs, robust career pathways and intentional check-ins each semester.

“Baylor’s mission emphasizes academic excellence within a caring community,” President Livingstone said. “I am calling on that very community to provide direct and consistent support for non-returning students, shepherding them back to complete their degrees and reinforcing the immense possibility and value that comes with a degree from Baylor University.”

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. To learn more about the Taskforce and member institutions' initiatives, visit the Taskforce website.

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 A. 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


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 19,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.