Daniel Greenstein, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

TITLE: Director of Education, Postsecondary Success

FUNDING AREAS: Increasing higher education success, access to postsecondary education, college readiness

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: If you look down your nose at online education, you won't find a friend in Greenstein. He may be Oxford-educated, but he knows a thing or two about the modern student.

PROFILE: Daniel Greenstein has extensive experience in academia and technology in education, both of which lend well to his leadership position at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Greenstein not only once oversaw the academic planning of a school system with more than 220,000 students, he also founded several academic digital services and also served as the director of the University of California's Online Education program. 

In a press release distributed in May 2012, Bill Gates had this to say about his new hire:

Dan's background in educational technology is particularly exciting... He has a vision for how technology can be an important tool to help improve large postsecondary systems and this vision will be critical to our long-term work with our grantees and partners to implement a strategy that has technology as a key component.

It's true that Greenstein has accomplished a thing or two in the educational tech space. As vice provost of academic planning, programs, and coordination at the University of California, Greenstein led the charge on a much debated initiative to integrate online classes into undergraduate academic programs at the university.

Anothr high profile former position: Greenstein served as executive director of the Digital Library Federation, which brought together online libraries across the country through one interconnected system. Then, of course, there was job as the founding director of the Arts and Humanities Data Service in the UK.

When he writes for the Gates blog, Impatient Optimists, Greenstein is an impassioned contributor. In one post, Greenstein talks about ways that the higher education system needs to adapt to the modern student, saying that the evolution of colleges demands "deploying technology, including those that support online instruction and student advising, making sure all students have access to high-quality college education that is tailored to their needs."

Perhaps that explains why shortly after Greenstein took over the Postsecondary Education program, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a 29-month, $4.8 million grant to the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education. The California-based nonprofit is using the funds to develop a free online program called EdReady, which assesses students' readiness for college and provides remediation for those students who need it prior to beginning their undergraduate studies.

The need for more technology in postsecondary programs isn't Greenstein's only area of focus, however. He's also expressed concern about the state of student aid programs like the Pell Grant. He's also spoken out on the foundation's blog about the disparity between those students who receive the financial aid to go to college and the number of students who actually leave college with a diploma in hand:

Traditionally, federal financial aid programs have been tremendously successful in ensuring all students have access to a college education regardless of income. Since the inception of the Pell Grant program in 1971, college enrollments have increased 78%. Furthermore, as college costs continue to rise at a greater rate than inflation, more students have taken out more loans — that is, money over and above Pell Grants — to pay for their postsecondary education. The impact is twofold: student loan debt has ballooned to the largest source of debt in the United States and on average students leave college with $26,500 in debt, half of them without a degree.

As for Greenstein's own education: He attended the London School of Economics for a short time, studying political science. He earned his bachelor's degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania and his DPhil from the University of Oxford.

According to the the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Greenstein's "current fascinations include sustaining models for public higher education, online undergraduate instruction, and models for supporting disruptive innovation in large well-established organizations." If you aren't familar with the term "disruptive" and all it entails, look to Silicon Valley; they have that whole disuptive model thing down pat. 

As far as grantmaking out of Greenstein's Postsecondary Success program goes, the Gates team tends to seek out and invite potential grantees to submit proposals. The foundation posts new grant opportunities on its website as they become available.  

VIDEO:

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