NOVA Joins 38 University Leaders Nationwide To Launch Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity

March 16, 2021

March 16, 2021 (Annandale, VA) – Today, Northern Virginia Community College joined nearly 40 institutions to launch the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity. NOVA and Taskforce member partners are driven to act by the tremendous challenges caused by the pandemic, income inequality, the changing nature of work and levels of unemployment among recent college graduates that are nearly double those seen during the 2008 recession. The impact of this crisis has a disproportionate impact on students from disadvantaged communities, regardless of their educational background. The Taskforce will provide greater opportunity to students and communities, while reimagining higher education's contribution to society and sharing insights with the broader education community.

The Taskforce brings together leaders from across American higher education, including public, private, two-year and four-year institutions that represent 2.5 million students nationwide. Taskforce members are focused on three key goals: ensuring student success despite the worst recession since World War II, 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 through 2023 for success in the post-pandemic economy. In the coming months, Taskforce members will develop programs to support local communities and others that reimagine the future of higher education and prepare students for work in a post-pandemic world.

NOVA has launched the Achieve Career Excellence (ACE) pilot in January 2021, which is an initiative designed to help students earn professional credentials so they can work in their desired field while they remain in school. Information and Engineering Technologies pathway students were offered the opportunity to attend test preparation courses beginning in January, and after successful completion of the course, will be given a test voucher to take the industry-certification exam.

The demand for industry-recognized certifications has greatly increased over the past decade. Though professional certifications are in high demand, the cost of sitting for required exams to gain the certification can be prohibitive to students. NOVA has committed over $1 million dollars per year to launch ACE to support students in their career readiness.

“This career advancement program will be a true game-changer. The Achieve Career Excellence (ACE) program connects students to real opportunity in the tech sector by subsidizing the costs of required exams and certifications. At the same time, it strengthens and diversifies the workforce pipeline as Northern Virginia’s tech sector continues to grow and need an increasing number of high-skilled employees,” said Anne M. Kress, president of NOVA. "The Achieve Career Excellence (ACE) program demonstrates how an essential road to recovery for individuals, communities and the economy runs through our nation’s community colleges."

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, click here.

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 M. 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 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

Topics: press release