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 performance.

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 engineering careers."

"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 lives."

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).


Freeman Hrabowski's Complete Biography

Contact: John Buettner
Phone: 301.445.2719