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‘Changing Times’

Wheaton, BSU cohost groundbreaking educator in wide-ranging lectures

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A nationally renowned educator known for his extraordinary success in helping minority students launch careers in mathematics and science will speak at both Bridgewater State University and Wheaton College during back-to-back visits.

Dr. Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), will speak at Wheaton College on Tuesday, April 17, about how the civil rights movement of the 1960s – and his role as a child leader during that time – has influenced his career as a scientist, scholar, educator and national leader for higher education.

His lecture, “Lessons In Leadership: From Civil Rights to STEM and Higher Education,” will be held at 7 p.m. in Wheaton’s Weber Theatre in the Watson Fine Arts Center. It is free and open to the public.

The following morning at 10:15 a.m. in BSU's Dunn Conference Center (located on the ground floor of Crimson Hall) Dr. Hrabowski will be featured in the Provost’s Investing In Democracy Series speaking on the topic, “The Role of Colleges and Universities in Challenging Times.” 

“I am pleased that we are hosting Dr. Hrabowski, and that Wheaton will be welcoming him as part of an expanded collaboration with Bridgewater State University,” said Wheaton Provost Renee T. White. “Our campuses hope to continue to co-host speakers and sponsor other activities with some regularity. And beyond that is the opportunity to bring high-visibility speakers to the region.”

Dr. Hrabowski is a high-profile leader in higher education. As president of UMBC since 1992, he is credited with leading that institution through a remarkable transformation from a regional institution into a national university known for its innovative curriculum and focus on academic achievement. The institution has won acclaim for its track record in graduating more underrepresented minority students who go on to earn doctoral degrees in the math and sciences than any other university in the nation. 

“The opportunity to hear Freeman Hrabowski on the role of universities and colleges at this time in our nation’s history is an invaluable one for the entire BSU community,” said Dr. Karim Ismaili, provost at Bridgewater State University. “He is a truly inspiring educator and leader who has changed the trajectory of countless lives. I know that his message will be deeply meaningful to all of us.”

To RSVP to the BSU presentation, visit

Dr. Hrabowski’s research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. He is the co-author of two books, Overcoming the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Young Womenand Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males. His 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.

He chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the 2011 report, “Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads.” He was named in 2012 by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. His 2013 TED talk highlights the “Four Pillars of College Success in Science.”

In 2008, he was named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked UMBC the nation’s #1 “Up and Coming” university for six years (2009-14). TIME magazine named him one of America’s 10 Best College Presidents in 2009, and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2012. In 2011, he received both the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence and the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Academic Leadership Award, recognized by many as the nation’s highest awards among higher education leaders.  

He serves as a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academies, and universities and school systems nationally. He also serves on a number of boards, including the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation (Chair), T. Rowe Price Group and The Urban Institute. He also holds honorary degrees from more than 20 institutions – from Harvard, Princeton, and Duke to Haverford College, Harvey Mudd College and Wheaton College.

A child-leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Hrabowski was featured in Spike Lee's 1997 documentary, Four Little Girls, based on the racially motivated bombing in 1963 of Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

At the age of 19, he graduated from Hampton Institute with highest honors in mathematics. He went on to receive an MA in mathematics and a PhD in higher education administration and statistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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