Known as one of the most successful college presidents and an advocate for inclusivity in higher education, Freeman A. Hrabowski, III is set to deliver the University of La Verne keynote address on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at the university’s 120th commencement.
Hrabowski is the president of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC). In April, he was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. He will be speaking at La Verne’s two commencement ceremonies; one at 10 a.m. and the other at 3:30 p.m. This year’s graduating class includes more than 2,000 candidates for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees from the university’s College of Business & Public Management, College of Education & Organizational Leadership as well as its College of Arts & Sciences.
Due to the university’s current renovation of Ortmayer Stadium, its football field, this year’s commencement will be held at the Citizens Business Bank Arena, located at 4000 E. Ontario Center Parkway in Ontario.
“We are honored to have Freeman Hrabowski, one of the nation’s most acknowledged leaders in higher education, as our commencement speaker,” said La Verne President Devorah Lieberman. “His professional background is an excellent example of how setting high academic standards for students, faculty and staff, is the way to achieve great successes. He is a pioneer for institutional transformation as well as minority education. I believe his insight will be greatly valued by everyone.”
Hrabowski was raised in a household that valued education. The son of teachers, he was born in 1950 in Birmingham, Ala. Inspired after hearing Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. speak at his home church, at 12, he participated in children’s march protesting segregation. As a result, he was jailed for a week. He considers the experience one that helped shape the rest of his life.
An exceptional student, Hrabowski skipped two grade levels and graduated from high school at 15. Four years later, he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Hampton Institute, graduating with the highest honors. He received both his master’s in mathematics and a doctorate in higher education administration and educational statistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At that time, he was 24-years-old.
He was associate dean of graduate studies and associate professor of statistics and research at Alabama A&M University from 1976-77 before moving to Coppin State College as a professor of mathematics. He also served four years as the school’s dean of arts and sciences and six years as vice president for academic affairs. He joined the administration at UMBC as vice provost in 1987.
In 1988, Hrabowski with philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff, co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program, aiming to increase the diversity of graduates in science, technology, engineering and related fields. The program was originally designed to support black males, but has since expanded to serve students of all races and genders. The success of the program has been widely recognized and has been considered a national model by the National Science Foundation. Based on these successful outcomes, Hrabowski has authored numerous articles and co-authored two books, “Beating the Odds,” and “Overcoming the Odds,” which focus on both parenting and high-achieving African-American young men and women in science. Both books are used by universities, school systems and in community groups from around the country.
In 2009, TIME Magazine named Hrabowski one of America’s 10 Best College Presidents. Under his leadership, UMBC was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 “Up and Coming” university and among the country’s top colleges and universities for commitment to undergraduate teaching in 2009 and 2010 by U.S. News & World Report. He holds honorary degrees from more than a dozen institutions, including Harvard, Princeton, Haverford College, Duke, Georgetown University and the University of Michigan, among others.
Media Note – This event is not open to the public. Reporters, photographers and camera operators are welcome to attend the La Verne Commencement Ceremonies. All attending media are asked to contact the Public Relations Office prior to the event date so arrangements can be made. You can contact Assistant Director of Media Relations Alisha Rosas by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.