It is a tremendous honor and privilege to begin my service as the President of the Consortium.
When I first met with the search committee, higher education already faced a looming demographic transformation amidst a continuing history of disparities of equity and access. Just a few months later, we are collectively engaging in a national reckoning on issues of race and privilege while facing a global pandemic and resulting economic crisis.
It is these very challenges that convinced me to join the Consortium. The collective strengths of our seventeen extraordinary and diverse colleges and universities and their leaders offer opportunities to confront these challenges and lead the transformation of higher education that will make our institutions, our communities, and our graduates more resilient and successful.
After speaking with many of our presidents and their leadership teams, three priorities have clearly emerged.
- Of primary importance, we must do all we reasonably can to keep our communities safe, including our faculty, staff, students, their families, and our neighbors.
- We will continue to increase access to high quality education, including confronting the legacy and ongoing impact of racism.
- We need to support our regional, local, and national economies. This includes sustaining our research missions and, as the largest non-government employers in the region, protecting jobs. Most directly, we must continue to lead the world in transforming how higher education is delivered to meet the needs of the future workforce and society.
The Consortium provides support for all of these priorities – convening teams across institutions on plans for reopening to leverage shared expertise and wherever possible consider bold options for working together.
While our Federal institutions must abstain from some discussions, our other institutions are unified in advocating for regional and national policies that support these priorities. Towards that end, I am proud that among my first decisions is to join associations and institutions across higher education to support the lawsuit against the sudden shift in policy affecting students holding F-1 visas. This capricious decision must be amended to avoid harming our students, enable us to remain the world’s best destination for education, and continue providing powerful investment in our institutions and the economy.
I look forward to working with our members; their faculty, staff, students, and alumni; our elected representatives and corporate leaders; and our philanthropic partners. I know personally that this is the best region in the world for higher education, and this is the right time to promote and leverage the incredible advantages we have as America’s greatest college town. All of us at the Consortium are committed to realizing that potential responsibly, ethically, and in service to our wonderful community.
Andrew Flagel, PhD
President and CEO, Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area
Visiting Scholar, The George Washington University