Bill LaCourse, College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Describes STEM Retention Efforts in eCampus News

A National Center for Education Statistics report found that 48% of undergraduate students who entered science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields in 2003-2009 left those majors by spring 2009, sparking discussions about how the U.S. can increase the number of qualified candidates in STEM fields. Bill LaCourse, dean of the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, spoke to eCampus News this week about strategies used at UMBC to retain students in those majors.

billlacourse“Students come into college interested in STEM, but [schools] do a lot of things to push them away,” LaCourse said. He urged colleges to rethink the way they teach STEM courses and make student retention a campus-wide effort. LaCourse also discusses STEM BUILD@UMBC, a holistic student support initiative supported by a National Institutes of Health grant. The initiative uses professional advisors, supportive student communities, and inter-collegiate collaboration to better engage students. “This country needs more scientists, more medical professionals, and more technology gurus… and achieving that goal starts with active, interesting learning that keeps students engaged throughout their educational careers and beyond,” he said.

The article also quoted a previous conversation with President Hrabowski on the same topic. In the article, Dr. Hrabowki spoke about “weed-out” classes as part of the problem in students leaving STEM majors.

Click here to read “Universities share best practices to retain STEM students.”

Pres. Hrabowski Discusses Education and New Book on Andrea Mitchell Reports, Marc Steiner Show, The Root

President Hrabowski recently visited Andrea Mitchell Reports, The Marc Steiner Show, and The Root to discuss his new book, Holding Fast To Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement, and the importance of education and mentorship for Baltimore youth.

hrabowskiIn his interviews, Dr. Hrabowski shared his experiences growing up in Birmingham, Alabama and how his desire for a better education inspired him to participate in the 1963 Children’s March. “The experience taught me a number of things… don’t let anyone else define who you are… that you can be empowered to make a difference in your own life,” he told Marc Steiner. He also spoke with Marc Steiner and The Root about UMBC’s work in supporting students of all backgrounds. He said to The Root, “Dr. King’s dream, and America’s dream should be, that students of all races, those from this country and people who come to this country from other places, will learn how to work effectively together to solve the problems of the world.”

Click here to listen to Dr. Hrabowski on The Marc Steiner Show and here to read “How 1 Man Is Using the Unity of the Civil Rights Movement to Empower Black Students in STEM” on The Root.

Dr. Hrabowski also spoke to Andrea Mitchell about the importance of education and mentorship for Baltimore youth in the wake of recent protests. “If we can educate people, we can have a better country,” he said. “That’s what children in Baltimore are saying right now- that they want a good education.”

Click here to watch Dr. Hrabowski on Andrea Mitchell Reports.

Dr. Hrabowski was also featured in a video by The Education Trust about how universities need to support low-income students in their education and careers. Click here to watch “Building a healthier democracy through high quality college education.”

Pres. Hrabowski Discusses Impact of Study Abroad in International Educator

hrabowskiPresident Hrabowski appears in this month’s edition of International Educator to discuss how studying abroad shaped his career path. International Educator is a bimonthly publication of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

In the article, Dr. Hrabowski shares about his time at the American University in Cairo. “It opened my eyes to a totally different world and everything changed,” he said. “It really put growing up in perspective and helped me understand other people.”

He goes on to discuss how his semester abroad has helped him in his role as the president of UMBC. He remarked, “It allows me to relate to and interact comfortably with people who came here from other countries. I’m always working with colleagues to create a culture that’s welcoming, and we’re always encouraging both our American students and our students from other countries to go beyond their comfort zones.”

Click here to read “Seeing the Story Through Different Eyes” in International Educator.

Pres. Hrabowski Shares UMBC’s Response to Baltimore’s Challenges in Inside Higher Ed

In light of the Baltimore protests, President Hrabowski penned an essay in Inside Higher Ed about the importance of UMBC’s continued work in the community and the need for ongoing conversations with students about confronting systematic injustice and inequality.

hrabowskiDr. Hrabowski began by sharing his experience in the Children’s March and how it developed into his life’s work of making education accessible to all Americans. He drew comparisons to the Baltimore protests, saying that the most important work of fighting issues of poverty and injustice is yet to come.

Sharing examples of UMBC’s commitment to Baltimore city through initiatives such as The Choice Program, Dr. Hrabowski emphasized the role of universities as “community anchors, educators and researchers.” “The future will depend heavily on universities– not only the policies we shape but the leaders we produce,” he wrote.

He also called for higher education institutions to encourage its students to connect with people from different backgrounds and circumstances and to apply their classroom discussions of justice, economics, and history to work in the community. “We are having renewed conversations on our campus about how we can deepen our ties to the community and keep issues of inequality and inequity at the forefront of our teaching and service,” he shared.

To read the article titled “After the Cameras Leave” on Inside Higher Ed, click here.

Dr. Hrabowski also participated in a discussion with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker at the Urban Institute on Wednesday, May 18. The conversation centered around how to reduce racial opportunity gaps for boy and men of color and create trust between the police and impoverished communities.

Dr. Hrabowski spoke about the need to support boys and men of color and how The Choice Program at UMBC is one strategy for increasing trust. “We need many more programs like this so that before the difficulty arises, these people know each other,” he said. “There’s a role for places like universities to play in building these intervention strategies that can build trust.”

Click here to read excerpts from the conversation at the Urban Institute.

Pres. Hrabowski Discusses “Holding Fast to Dreams” on WYPR

hrabowskiPresident Hrabowski visited Maryland Morning on May 11 to discuss his new book Holding Fast to Dreams with host Sheila Kast. Holding Fast to Dreams was published this month and recounts Dr. Hrabowksi’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement, his journey to UMBC, the inspiration and success of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, and the continued work at UMBC with redesigned courses to encourage “inclusive excellence” for all students.

In the interview, Dr. Hrabowski touched his childhood, the recent protests in Baltimore, and his passion for helping students succeed at UMBC. “What we do at UMBC, whether talking about what we got through Mr. Meyerhoff’s work through the Meyerhoff program for producing scientists or what we get through our artist programs, humanities programs, is the notion of pulling people together from different backgrounds and helping them prepare to become leaders who will help people other than themselves,” he said.

Dr. Hrabowski also spoke about the importance of supporting students to ensure retention in STEM fields, his love for math, and the need for quality education in the lives of Baltimore city youth.

Click here to listen to “How The Civil Rights Movement Inspired UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski” on WYPR.

Pres. Hrabowski Featured in SmartCEO Magazine

hrabowskiSmartCEO’s May issue features a cover story about President Hrabowski’s leadership at UMBC with STEM education and entrepreneurship. SmartCEO publishes a bimonthly magazine about leading businesses in four major markets: Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York.

The story highlights Dr. Hrabowki’s leadership at UMBC and the university’s transformation into “an innovation hub and national education powerhouse.” Dr. Hrabowski also shares ideas for collaborative leadership, drawing on his experiences working with UMBC’s faculty senate, as well as corporate and government partnerships. “The more people see that what you say you’re going to do, you do, and the more you consult with people and get their points of view, the more trust and respect you build,” he said.

Several students, alumni, and faculty members shared how Dr. Hrabowski’s vision and leadership has inspired them. CEO of Potomac Photonics Mike Adelstein ’96, biochemistry and molecular biology, told SmartCEO why he moved his company to bwtech@UMBC, saying “The way that [Hrabowski] was building UMBC was the way that we wanted to build our company. He doesn’t judge a book by its cover. If a person is willing to work hard and has shown that he has an interest and a passion for what he’s doing, he will be given the opportunity. That is the way we have done things here at Potomac.”

The article concludes with Dr. Hrabowski describing UMBC’s goals. “We want UMBC to be a caring environment, a nurturing environment where we know the students, know their strengths, but also know their challenges, have a sense of their backgrounds,” he said. “We enjoy telling students that if they can succeed here, they can succeed anywhere in the world.”

Read “How Freeman Hrabowski transformed UMBC into an innovation hub and national education powerhouse” in SmartCEO here.

SmartCEO also published an article by Dr. Hrabowski about his love for Baltimore City. Dr. Hrabowski names diversity and a spirit of entrepreneurship as reasons why Baltimore is a vibrant community for all of its citizens. Read “Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President, UMBC: Why I love Baltimore” here.

Pres. Hrabowski Recognizes Game Design as Future of Learning

hrabowskiIn a commentary on CNBC, President Hrabowski praises the success of Team HueBotics, a video-game development team from UMBC heading to the 2015 Microsoft Imagine World Cup, and discusses how they exemplify the future of learning and technology. Team HueBotics is made up of Jasmine Martin ’15, visual arts and business administration, Erika Schumacher ’17, visual arts, Tad Cordle ’16, computer engineering, and Michael Leung ’16, computer science.

Dr. Hrabowski examines the utility of video games as a way to improve education and engage students from a variety of backgrounds. “American education, from pre-K to college, must find ways to inspire similar dedication and to bring content to life,” he said. “Playing well-designed games, as well as creating them, can pack an educational punch.”

Dr. Hrabowski also mentions how Team HueBotics mentor Marc Olano, computer science, has worked with Anne Rubin, history, to redesign courses to include game design. He concludes, “The right use of technology in redesigned courses can improve teaching and learning…That’s why at UMBC we have said, ‘Let the games begin.'”

Click here to read “Video games in the classroom? Welcome to the future of learning” on CNBC.