Chancellor Perman and Chair Gooden Statement on the Retirement of UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III
Baltimore, Md. (Aug. 25, 2021) – UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski today announced his intention to retire following the 2021–22 academic year. While his retirement is more than well-deserved, it will be difficult to say goodbye to a leader like Freeman.
It’s impossible to overstate his influence on UMBC—and on its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Over an incredible 34 years at UMBC—30 of them as president—Dr. Hrabowski has led the university to national and international acclaim. UMBC is widely considered one of the country’s most innovative universities and is consistently ranked among the top colleges nationwide for undergraduate teaching. Its six-year graduation rate has climbed nearly 14 points in only a decade. Just this year, UMBC was asked to join the University Innovation Alliance, whose 11 select member institutions are dedicated to increasing the number and diversity of U.S. college graduates.
In fact, it’s UMBC’s commitment to the achievement of every student, and its work in cultivating a diverse corps of scholars and leaders, that has marked the university as one of the most respected (and emulated) pioneers in American higher education. Among baccalaureate institutions, UMBC is the nation’s top producer of Black graduates who go on to earn a PhD in the natural sciences and engineering; the top producer of Black students who earn an MD/PhD degree; the top producer of Black students who earn doctorates in math, computer science, and the life sciences. That success has its roots in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, which has set the standard for preparing underrepresented students for advanced STEM degrees, and whose principles have been applied to disciplines across academia.
Under Dr. Hrabowski’s leadership, the university’s R&D expenditures have grown more than eightfold to $84 million annually, ranking UMBC among the country’s top 100 public universities in federal research funding. Its graduate programs in public policy, psychology, statistics, physics, computer science, chemistry, and fine arts are regarded as some of the nation’s best. Its Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation proves the school’s fidelity to its public purpose—its devotion to strengthening communities and dismantling the barriers to opportunity that have calcified over time.
Of course, Dr. Hrabowski is central to these successes. With three decades of leadership at UMBC, his name is virtually synonymous with the university’s. And he has long been a fixture on the national stage, talking about UMBC’s culture of inclusive excellence, sharing what the university and its students have achieved, and showing fellow leaders how to replicate their success.
And yet in The Empowered University, Dr. Hrabowski writes that it isn’t about him; it’s about “us”—it’s about what’s possible when students, faculty, staff, and alumni work together to continually improve an organization’s culture, climate, and outcomes, and sustain a tradition of achievement. This commitment to collaborative leadership is every bit as important to UMBC’s story as Dr. Hrabowski is. His legacy—for UMBC, for the University System, for Maryland as a whole—is the people who will continue his pioneering work and hold fast to his conviction that “success is never final.”
Without question, President Hrabowski’s influence—locally, nationally—is well-earned and deeply felt. If you’ve ever met Freeman, you understand almost at once how powerful is his ability to inspire—and to inspire excellence.
And so, as we work with the USM Board of Regents, the presidential search committee, and the UMBC community to install a new leader, we will look for one with his passion—a president as devoted to the university as Freeman Hrabowski, as dedicated to its mission and its people, and as capable of leading the school to even greater prominence.
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Contact: Mike Lurie