Chancellor Dan Greenstein at Mansfield commencement


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Hope lives on

New Year’s blogs convey messages of hope and optimism. That’s what the genre demands. This one is a little late and, well, you can imagine why. Given the turmoil on the national stage, my typically inexhaustible stores of hope and optimism have been in somewhat shorter supply.

Like most of you, I’ve been reeling from a few realizations: 

  • ​Our democracy is fragile and requires constant tending in order to survive, much less thrive. 

  • Fringe paramilitary, nativist, white nationalist, anarchist, and other groups—long a part of our national fabric and its political discourse—are active amongst us. They are better organized than they have been in quite some time due in part to economic dislocation, the hollowing out of the political center, and the intentional pandering of more extreme factions - left and right - interest in advancing their own position, market share, or both. 

  • Our nation, which has mobilized and channeled its vast intellectual, scientific, and financial resources so effectively and so heroically to deal with national emergencies in our past, is caught flat-footed, inept, and divided by a global pandemic that is taking a terrible toll measured in human life while exposing and exacerbating gross inequities that exist in our society.

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Dr. Daniel Greenstein became the fifth chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education on September 4, 2018. In that role, he serves as chief executive officer of the State System, which operates Pennsylvania’s 14 public universities, serving nearly 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more enrolled in certificate and other career-development programs.​ The chancellor works with the Board of Governors to recommend and develop overall policies for the System.

Greenstein previously led the Postsecondary Success strategy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he worked with other higher education leaders across the country on initiatives designed to raise edu​cational-attainment levels and to promote economic mobility, especially among low-income and minority students. He developed and implemented a national strategy for increasing the number of degrees awarded and for reducing the attainment gaps among majority and non-majority students at U.S. colleges and universities.

Before joining the foundation, Greenstein was Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Programs for the University of California (UC) system. In that role, he oversaw system-wide academic planning and programs, including the University of California Press; the California Digital Library; the UC system’s Education Abroad Program; internship programs in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento; and UC Online Education.

Greenstein has created and led several internet-based academic information services in the United States and the United Kingdom, and served on boards and acted in strategic consulting roles for educational, cultural heritage, and information organizations. He began his academic career as a senior lecturer in Modern History at Glasgow University in Scotland.

He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. An enthusiastic cyclist, Dan and his wife, Melissa, have two children.