NewsBridging the Gap


Bridging the Gap: UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski

Posted at 6:26 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 18:26:58-05

BALTIMORE — "The swimmers will be out here. The commons will be packed with student union and this is the Life Sciences. The beautiful new building. I'm very proud of that," said UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski.

Hrabowski was beaming with pride as we toured his campus. On any given day you'll see him meeting and greeting students along Academic Row.

His encouragement, energy and enthusiasm have been the driving forces behind the university's success over the past 30 years.

"When you go back for a minute think about it, something that was exciting to the world was when we made sports NCAA history," he said.

But what's bigger than their basketball triumphs, is the climate that Hrabowski has created on this campus of about 14,000 students.

On his list when he became president in 1992 was raising the bar when it came to helping marginalized students become successful and he's done it.

"We lead the country in producing Blacks who go on to get PHD's in the natural sciences and engineering and number one in producing those who get MD, PHD's," he explained. "People see here that it can be done that you can talk about students of any race, from first generation college to kids whose parents are educated and you can help them to succeed the message of UMBC is, you don't have to be rich to be the very best. I love that message."

And the message has evolved over the decades.

"Students at that time who would succeed they were really well prepared. Many students didn't have the preparation and didn't do well here necessarily. The best was doing well and going on. But now anyone at UMBC is destined to succeed," said Hrabowski.

"We spend a lot of time working with school systems. We started with Baltimore City at what we can do to improve test scores, but also to help children to believe in themselves and be prepared."

The list of success stories is long to name a few: Dr. Kezzmekia Corbet who helped invent the Moderna vaccine, James Clements President of Clemson University, Former Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, Adrienne Jones the first African American and first woman to serve as speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates to a girl from East Baltimore who grew up to become the Vice President of Economic Development for Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System.

Making sure no student felt overlooked or was left behind is one of the things Hrabowski hopes to leave as his legacy.

"We care about other people. And we are excited about ideas and about thinking and having passion," he explained. "It's just never, never never give up...keep hope alive and that we must keep hope alive and that's UMBC a beacon of hope."