Photo: Jay Baker
Freeman Hrabowski III
18th Heinz Awards - 2012
At a time when our nation is deeply concerned that the supply of college graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is not keeping pace with other countries, Freeman Hrabowski received the 18th Heinz Award in the Human Condition category for developing groundbreaking methods for inspiring students to excel in these critical areas and make valuable contributions to society.
Now in his 20th year as President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Dr. Hrabowski is a leading advocate for greater diversity in higher education and is committed to helping students of all backgrounds pursue their dreams of becoming scientists and engineers.
Recognizing the challenges many minority students faced in the sciences, Dr. Hrabowski partnered with Baltimore philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff to create the Meyerhoff Scholars program. The program emphasizes mentoring and collaboration and accepts high-achieving students from any background who demonstrate a commitment to the advancement of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. Selected students engage in research and are taught to support one another by studying in groups, an approach that has revolutionized teaching at the university. Year after year, this program proves that a supportive environment and a high-quality undergraduate education can change lives.
To date, the program has had an overwhelming impact on UMBC by graduating more than 800 students in STEM fields, the vast majority of whom have pursued graduate and professional degrees. UMBC is now one of the nation’s leading universities for producing Black American bachelor’s degree graduates who go on to complete STEM Ph.D.s.
Freeman Hrabowski’s work has both earned the university praise and created a blueprint for overhauling science education at other institutions. Recognizing these accomplishments, President Obama named him chair of the newly created President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Black Americans.
Note: This profile was written at the time of the awards’ presentation.