Pres. Hrabowski Looks to Baltimore as City of Hope in Face of Growing Inequality

President Hrabowski penned an article for the Washington Post this week reflecting on societal inequalities. Drawing on his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, he compares the struggles of today’s society to challenges present in the 1960s.

hrabowski“I am stunned and saddened by the growth of inequality in our society and the fact that many children have simply stopped dreaming about the future,” Dr. Hrabowski wrote as he recounted how many families are stuck in poverty and gains in post-secondary education are unevenly spread. “Yet I also remind myself how far we’ve come,” he continued. “If we don’t count our progress, we lose sight of the lessons we’ve learned, and we run the risk of losing hope.”

Dr. Hrabowski pointed to Baltimore as a place to find hope, saying “I’ve lived and worked here the past 40 years, and I see the many ways this region reflects the country’s progress and its challenges.” Describing Baltimore as a prosperous city with a number of African-Americans in leadership roles, he also recognized the city’s challenges with high unemployment and poverty rates.

“The challenge now is to reflect on how we can extend the gains of the past 50 years to even more Americans,” Dr. Hrabowski said. “We now have the opportunity — indeed, the responsibility — to look again at public policies in such areas as education and job training, housing and transportation, drug enforcement and incarceration.”

Read “Need a reason to believe there’s hope for racial progress? Look to Baltimore” on the Washington Post.

Pres. Hrabowski Discusses the Power of Education on The Kojo Nnamdi Show

President Hrabowski visited WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show on July 7, 2015 to discuss how his upbringing during the Civil Rights movement inspired his passion for making higher education more inclusive.

hrabowskiDuring the interview, Dr. Hrabowski touched on the themes in his latest book, Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement. As a child, the importance of well-rounded education was impressed upon him and he spoke about prioritizing multiple disciplines.

“We have to stop making this major distinction between STEM…and reading and the humanities and the arts,” he said. “These are false distinctions.”

Pres. Hrabowski highlighted the power of education to enable talented students from all backgrounds to contribute to solving the world’s most complex problems, which require creative, collaborative solutions.

“Recent reports from the National Academy of Sciences say that two-thirds of Americans of all races who begin with a major in science or engineering will leave within the first year or two.” He explained how at UMBC “we have rethought how we teach” to make courses more engaging and learning communities more supportive. This has boosted student success in STEM as well as across the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

“We have people of all backgrounds from all over the world becoming scientists and solving the problems of humankind, while others are thinking about social science issues from health disparities…to issues of economic inequality,” Pres. Hrabowski explained. “Those problems are bigger now than ever… Those are the things we are thinking about and focusing on at UMBC.”

The interview also covered the Baltimore protests and Common Core standards, as well as the need to teach students about the necessity of struggling with issues and subjects, rather than expecting instant gratification. Additionally, several alumni called in to the show to thank Dr. Hrabowski for his work and share their UMBC experiences.

Listen to Dr. Hrabowski on the Kojo Nnamdi Show.

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.