NEWS: Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President Emeritus of UMBC, will be Olin’s 2024 Commencement Speaker

January 23, 2024

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President Emeritus of The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, will be Olin’s 2024 featured Commencement Speaker.

Dr. Hrabowski served as UMBC president from 1992 to 2022. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance.

Dr. Hrabowski 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.”  

Portrait of Dr.Hrabowski

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski will be Olin College’s 2024 Commencement Speaker on May 10, 2024.

In 2022, Dr. Hrabowski was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and he was also named the inaugural ACE Centennial Fellow, to be served upon his retirement from UMBC. In addition, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) launched the Freeman Hrabowski Scholars Program ($1.5 billion) to help build a scientific workforce that more fully reflects our increasingly diverse country. In April 2023, The National Academy of Sciences awarded him the Public Welfare Medal, the Academy’s most prestigious award, and inducted him as a member of the academy, for his extraordinary use of science for the public good.

With philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff, he co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in 1988. The program is open to all high-achieving students committed to pursuing advanced degrees and research careers in science and engineering, and advancing underrepresented minorities in these fields. The program is recognized as a national model, and based on program outcomes, Dr. Hrabowski has authored numerous articles and co-authored two books, Beating the Odds and Overcoming the Odds (Oxford University Press), focusing on parenting and high-achieving African American males and females in science.

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

Dr. Hrabowski is the co-author of five books. His newest book, The Resilient University: How Purpose and Inclusion Drive Student Success, published in January 2024, examines how university leaders' empowering approach to resiliency was tested by the dual crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial unrest. His 2015 book, Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement (Beacon Press), describes the events and experiences that played a central role in his development as an educator and leader. The Empowered University: Shared Leadership, Culture Change, and Academic Success (Johns Hopkins University Press), the 2019 book he wrote with two colleagues, examines how university communities support academic success by cultivating an empowering institutional culture.

Born in 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Hrabowski graduated from Hampton Institute with highest honors in mathematics. He received his M.A. in mathematics and Ph.D. in higher education administration/statistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.