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UMD Joins Nationwide Task Force on Higher Education and Opportunity

Effort on Campus to Start With Supporting New Transfer Students

By Maryland Today Staff

M gate blossoms

Photo by John T. Consoli

UMD and fellow members of the task force seek to address pandemic-related challenges, income inequality, the changing nature of work, and unemployment among recent college graduates.

The University of Maryland has joined nearly 40 institutions to launch a nationwide initiative designed to ensure student success despite widespread financial difficulty, partner with local communities and ultimately reimagine how higher education is delivered.

The Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity brings together leaders from across American higher education, including public, private, two-year and four-year institutions that represent 2.5 million students nationwide. 

Members, who will take individual and collective action to meet the task force’s shared mission, are now launching the first round of initiatives to prepare the graduates of 2021-23 to succeed in the post-pandemic economy. In the coming months, members will develop programs to support local communities, and additional programs will follow to reimagine the future of higher education and prepare students for work in a post-pandemic world.

To help meet the task force's goal of positioning students for success, Maryland will initially focus on supporting transfer students. In Fall 2020, nearly 40% of new students at UMD were transfer students, often from community colleges across the state. Through established programming in the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the university has seen success in onboarding transfer students by offering specialized services and support, and will explore replicating and expanding this at other colleges and schools on campus.

“I wish for all students—no matter where they start their path in higher education—to have the opportunities and support they need to successfully finish their degree at the University of Maryland,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “I am encouraged that plans are in development to help transfer students transition smoothly to UMD and support them through graduation."

UMD and task force partners are driven to act by the challenges caused by the pandemic, income inequality, the changing nature of work, and levels of unemployment among recent college graduates—nearly double those of the 2008 recession. The impact of this crisis is falling unevenly across groups and disproportionately impacting students from disadvantaged communities, despite their educational background. 

The task force will provide greater opportunity to students and communities, while reimagining higher education's contribution to society and sharing insights with the broader education community. Its membership will continue to grow to diversify and scale impact with a focus on action, uniquely positioning it in higher education. 

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