Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, 2013 Black Engineer of The Year, recently accepted the American Council on Education (ACE) Lifetime Achievement Award.
Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) for more than 25 years, received the award March 12 during the Luncheon Plenary at ACE’s 100th Annual Meeting.
“It is an honor to bestow ACE’s Lifetime Achievement Award on one of the most accomplished campus leaders in this country, one who has made an indelible mark on his institution and the entire higher education community,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “President Hrabowski has built UMBC into a powerhouse engine of social mobility and academic excellence, particularly in the area of expanding the number of minority students pursuing degrees in the fields of science and technology.”
Hrabowski is widely celebrated for his work with fellow educators, research agencies, philanthropists, and other partners to make UMBC a model for increasing diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
“Freeman is a fierce champion of the traditionally unseen and underserved, and he is a vigorous and powerful mentor,” said ACE president Ted Mitchell. “He has been called one of America’s best leaders, one of the 100 most influential people in the world, one of America’s best 10 college presidents…At ACE, we just call him our future.”
Before a crowd of hundreds of educators from across the country, Hrabowski talked about his childhood in 1950s Alabama, and his mother, an English teacher who taught him never to think of himself as “second rate” despite the lack of resources available in his segregated public school.
Hrabowski’s most recent book, Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement, describes the events and experiences that played a central role in his development as an educator and leader.
Since becoming the university’s leader 26 years ago, Hrabowski has worked with the campus community to create a diverse and inclusive environment.
In Hrabowski’s time as UMBC president, the university has grown as one of the most innovative colleges, balancing commitments to teaching and research, and producing remarkable alumni, from artists and policy makers to teachers, scientists, and social workers, as well as the current surgeon general and, fittingly, university presidents.
Hrabowski is a consultant on science and math education to national agencies, universities, and school systems. He was named by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
He also chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads (2011). His 2013 TED talk highlights the “Four Pillars of College Success in Science.”
Named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report (2008), he also received TIAA-CREF’s Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence (2011), the Carnegie Corporation’s Academic Leadership Award (2011), and the Heinz Award (2012) for contributions to improving the “Human Condition.”