Leader in STEM, minority education to receive honorary degree from ASU

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Arizona State University at the May 14 undergraduate commencement ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium.

Hrabowski, a Birmingham, Ala., native, is a renowned scholar of higher education and mathematics who has championed science and math education, emphasizing minority participation and performance. He was recently named by President Barack Obama to chair the newly created President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Hrabowski is among the inaugural inductees into the U.S. News & World Report STEM Solutions Leadership Hall of Fame. Time Magazine named the veteran educator one of America’s Ten Best College Presidents in 2009 and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2012.

Recently, CBS’s 60 Minutes featured Hrabowski and UMBC, attracting national attention for the campus’ achievements involving innovation and inclusive excellence. A child-leader in the Civil Rights Movement, he has also been featured in Spike Lee’s 1997 documentary, "Four Little Girls," based on the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Hrabowski is the co-founder of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC with philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff. The program is for high-achieving students, especially from underrepresented minorities, who are committed to pursuing advanced degrees and research careers in the STEM fields.

The program’s status as a national model and its outcomes have inspired numerous articles and two books by Hrabowski – “Beating the Odds” and “Overcoming the Odds” – that focus on parenting and high-achieving African American men and women in science.

Hrabowski also chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the recent report, “Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads.” In addition, 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 is a board member of several companies and non-profit groups, such as the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Baltimore Equitable Society and McCormick and Company.

Among his numerous awards and honors are: the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence; Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Academic Leadership Award; and the Heinz Award for his contributions to improving the “Human Condition.&rdquo

Born in 1950, Hrabowski graduated at 19 from Hampton University in Virginia with highest honors in mathematics. He received his master’s degree in mathematics, and his doctoral degree in higher education administration and statistics at age 24 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.