Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), will accept the Legend in Leadership Award from the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute on January 26 at the Yale Higher Education Leadership Summit. The award will be presented by Peter Salovey, 23rd president, Yale University; Andrew Hamilton, 16th president, New York University; and Johnnetta Cole, president emerita of Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, seventh president of Spelman College, and 14th president of Bennett College.
Summit organizer Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies at the Yale School of Management, said, “We are honored to celebrate one of the most accomplished, admired, influential, and longest-serving university presidents in the country. His inspiring institutional ambition reveal his vision and authenticity with no grandiosity. After assuming the presidency of the young university 30 years ago, President Hrabowski transformed UMBC into a nationally-recognized model of inclusive innovation in STEM education, particularly for historically underrepresented groups. Under President Hrabowski’s leadership, UMBC has become the nation’s leading producer of Black bachelor’s degree recipients who go on to earn PhDs in the natural sciences and engineering, and the university has more than doubled its proportion of students from low-income households. During his tenure, UMBC has also significantly scaled its international student population while doubling the university’s number of annual graduates and degree offerings. Additionally, UMBC has increased its spending in STEM research and development almost nine-fold.
“What the numbers can’t capture is how President Hrabowski personifies what it means to be a principled, visionary, courageous academic entrepreneur. Jailed in 1963 at the age of 12 after participating in a children’s march for Civil Rights, Hrabowski encourages his students to push the limits of what is possible even if others might underestimate them. That spirit of being unapologetically aspirational, coupled with Hrabowski’s skills as an institution-builder and nurturing mentor to top talent, has created an enduring culture at UMBC, where inclusive scholarship and pedagogic innovation turn dreams into reality every day. Whether it is in the course of dropping in on classes where he knows all the students by name, or whether it’s cheering on his beloved UMBC basketball team as they shatter expectations to oust a number 1-seeded rival, President Hrabowski is a living embodiment to his students and countless others of inspiring academic leadership.”
Hrabowski has served as the president of UMBC since 1992. He leads a university that has been widely recognized as a model for inclusive excellence and academic innovation by peer institutions and national publications. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. He chaired the National Academies committee that produced the 2011 report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. He was named in 2012 by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. His most recent book, The Empowered University, examines how university communities support academic success by cultivating an empowering institutional culture.
In 2008, Hrabowski was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked UMBC the nation’s number 1 “Up and Coming” university for six years (2009-2014). In every year since then, U.S. News has ranked UMBC among the nation’s “most innovative” national universities.
For the past 10 years, U.S. News also consistently ranked UMBC among the nation’s leading institutions for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” TIME magazine named Hrabowski one of “America’s 10 Best College Presidents” in 2009 and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2012. In 2011, he received both the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence and the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Academic Leadership Award, recognized by many as the nation’s highest awards among higher education leaders. Also in 2011, he was named one of seven Top American Leaders by the Washington Post and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. In 2012, he received the Heinz Award for his contributions to improving the human and was among the inaugural inductees into the U.S. News & World Report STEM Solutions Leadership Hall of Fame. More recently, he received the American Council on Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2018) and was named a recipient of the University of California, Berkeley’s Clark Kerr Award (2019).
Hrabowski 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 serves on the boards of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, France-Merrick Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation (chair), T. Rowe Price Group, The Urban Institute, McCormick & Company, and the Baltimore Equitable Society. He served previously on the boards of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Maryland Humanities Council (member and chair).
Born in 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama, Hrabowski graduated from Hampton Institute with highest honors in mathematics. He received his M.A. (mathematics) and Ph.D. (higher education administration/statistics) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 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.
The Legend in Leadership Award was created 25 years ago to honor current and former CEOs and university presidents who serve as living legends to inspire leaders across industries, sectors, and nations. Past recipients include: Andrew Hamilton, president, New York University; Lawrence S. Bacow, 29th president, Harvard University; Donna E. Shalala, former president, University of Miami, and 18th secretary of health and human services; Johnnetta B. Cole, president emerita of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and 7th president of Spelman College; Ruth Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University, and 18th president of Brown University; Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo; Arne M. Sorenson, CEO, Marriot International; Brian C. Cornell, CEO, Target; Mary T. Barra, chairman and chief executive of General Motors Company; Brian Moynihan, chairman and CEO, Bank of America; David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co- executive chairman, The Carlyle Group; Leonard S. Schleifer, president and CEO, and George D. Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast; Marillyn Hewson CEO of Lockheed Martin; Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase; and Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck. A full list of recipients can be found online.
The summit theme is “Covid’s Educational Legacy: What Became Endemic after the Pandemic.” A group of revered presidents and board chairs from globally renowned colleges and universities will engage in lively, candid discussions at this invitation-only leaders’ conference hosted by the Yale School of Management.
Conference partners are TIAA, McKinsey and Company, Russell Reynolds Associates, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.