UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski Receives 2008 Frederick Douglass Award
Public Ceremony Held October 15 at UMBC
ADELPHI, Md. (October 15, 2008) - In recognition of his commitment to education and
equal opportunity, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, III, president of the University of
Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), has been named the recipient of the 2008
Frederick Douglass Award. Presented by Chancellor William E. Kirwan and the
Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland (USM), the award honors
individuals "who have displayed an extraordinary and active commitment to the
ideals of freedom, equality, justice, and opportunity exemplified in the life
of Frederick Douglass."
The ceremony honoring Hrabowski
was held Wednesday, October 15, 2008 on the campus of UMBC in Catonsville.
"Frederick Douglass called on
our nation to transform itself," said Board of Regents Chair Clifford M.
Kendall. "Freeman Hrabowski knows that our nation must continue to transform
itself by inspiring and empowering our young people through education and
opportunity. Freeman's legacy will be the diversity, leadership, and vision of
this new generation."
"Freeman has made the
importance of education and the need to increase minority participation and
success--especially in science and technology fields--the cornerstone of his
career," said Chancellor Kirwan. "In a university system that boasts some of
the state's and the nation's greatest assets, he is a leader among leaders on
the most pressing challenges we face."
Hrabowski has served as president
of UMBC since May 1992. His research and publications focus on science
and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and
He serves as a consultant
to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academies, and universities and school systems
nationally. He also sits on several corporate and civic boards, including
the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation,
the France-Merrick Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation (Chair), McCormick
& Company, Inc., and the Urban Institute. His recent awards and honors
include the prestigious McGraw Prize in Education; the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science,
Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring: and being named a Fellow of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
He has authored numerous
articles and co-authored two books, Beating the Odds and Overcoming
the Odds (Oxford University Press), focusing on parenting and
high-achieving African-American males and females in science. Both books are
used by universities, school systems, and community groups around the country.
A child-leader in the
Civil Rights Movement, Hrabowski was prominently featured in Spike Lee's 1997
documentary, Four Little Girls, on the racially motivated bombing in
1963 of Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
Born in 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama, Hrabowski graduated at 19 from Hampton Institute
with highest honors in mathematics. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he received his M.A. (mathematics) and four years
later his Ph.D. (higher education administration/statistics) at age 24.
Through his efforts as a
university educator, administrator, and advocate, Hrabowski has put UMBC at the
forefront of increasing diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and
math) fields and educating a new generation of science and technology leaders
and innovators. Since 1993, UMBC's signature Meyerhoff Scholars Program
graduated 605 students, more than a third of whom have completed STEM graduate
degrees at prestigious universities across the nation. An additional 280
Meyerhoff alumni are currently enrolled in graduate and professional
schools. Of current Meyerhoff Scholars, 55 percent are underrepresented
(African-American and Hispanic); 27 percent are Asian/Pacific Islanders; 19
percent are Caucasian.
UMBC has also been a
leader in promoting gender equity in the sciences through its Advance Program.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, Advance provides grants and awards
to individuals and organizations for the purpose of "increasing the
participation of women in the scientific and engineering workforce through the
increased representation and advancement of women in the academic sciences and
"The University System is to be commended for establishing the Frederick
Douglass Award several years ago," said Hrabowski. "It is an honor to
accept the award on behalf of my colleagues and students, whose work, like the
life of Frederick Douglass, reflects the power of education to transform
The Frederick Douglass Award was established in 1995 by the
USM Board of Regents. Previous recipients include the Hon. Parren J. Mitchell,
former congressman for the 7th District of Maryland (1996); the Hon. Kweisi
Mfume, former congressman and president of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (1999); the late Bea Gaddy, advocate for the
homeless and Baltimore City councilwoman (2000); and the Hon. Robert Bell,
chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals (2006).
Contact: John Buettner