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UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski, expert on minority-student educational performance, to speak Nov. 20

Freeman Hrabowski

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Freeman Hrabowski, a leading expert on improving the academic performance of African-American students in math and science, will be in Ithaca Sunday, Nov. 20, to deliver a Sage Chapel address at Cornell University and be the featured participant in a Community Forum on Education and Society at the Ithaca Town Hall in downtown Ithaca. Both events are free and open to the public.

The Sage Chapel address, "Reflections and Stories: Dreams, Values and Deeds," will be at 11 a.m., and the community forum, titled "Education for the 21st Century: Creating a Climate of Success for All Students," will be from 2 to 4:30 p.m. in the main courtroom of the Ithaca Town Hall, 215 N. Tioga St. Parents and teachers are encouraged to attend the forum, which will begin with a half hour of social time and refreshments.

Hrabowski's visit is jointly sponsored by the offices of Stephen Hamilton, Cornell vice provost for outreach; Kenneth Clarke, director of Cornell United Religious Work; Robert Harris, Cornell vice provost for diversity and faculty development; The Village at Ithaca; and the Ithaca City School District.

Hrabowski is president of UMBC, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, which he has made into a leading source of African-American Ph.D.s in math and the sciences. Over the past three decades, he has spent much of his professional career studying minority student achievement and addressing the achievement gap between minority and white students. He has focused special attention on the underrepresentation of minority students, particularly African-Americans, in the sciences, mathematics and engineering.

A key outcome of his efforts was the creation in 1988 of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program for high-achieving minority students in these fields at UMBC. By all measures, the program's positive outcomes are striking. Approximately 600 competitively selected students have enrolled in the program, and since the first group of graduates in 1993, nearly 400 Meyerhoff students have earned degrees, with 85 percent going on to graduate and professional programs nationwide.

Born in 1950 in Birmingham, Ala., Hrabowski was involved at an early age in the civil rights movement. He participated in Martin Luther King Jr.'s children's crusade, and he also knew one of the young girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing of 1963. He graduated at age 19 from Hampton Institute, with highest honors in mathematics, received his M.A. degree in mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and four years later, at age 24, his Ph.D. in higher education administration and statistics. He serves as a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and universities and school systems nationally. He also sits on numerous corporate and civic boards.

Hrabowski has co-written two books and numerous journal articles and has been the recipient of several awards, including the Educator Achievement Award from the National Science Foundation and the first U.S. President's Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (awarded in recognition of the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program). In 2004, he was selected as one of the 50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science by Science Spectrum Magazine.

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