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Senate confirms Biden’s choice of undersecretary for universities

Image: University of Michigan [CC BY-ND 2.0], via Flickr

Activist attorney and Obama administration veteran James Kvaal’s previous work on student equity praised

The Senate has confirmed the appointment of James Kvaal, who has campaigned to make higher education more affordable, as the undersecretary of education for colleges and universities.

Senators voted 58-37 to approve Kvaal (pictured), a former president of the non-profit Institute for College Access and Success and an adviser in former US president Barack Obama’s administration.

The chair of the Senate education committee, Patty Murray, said before the 14 September vote that backing Kvaal would “help build a stronger, more equitable higher education system”.

Kvaal’s new boss, secretary of education Miguel Cardona, said the former attorney had “a deep understanding of the strengths, needs and challenges in postsecondary education”.

Richard Kazis, who is a temporary president at Kvaal’s old institute, said the institute was “excited” to work with him to “make college more affordable”, “close equity gaps in attainment” and “hold low-quality colleges and programmes accountable”.