Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, the veteran administrator who announced earlier this year that he was retiring as president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), was awarded the Dr. John Hope Franklin award on Tuesday by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.
The virtual celebration sponsored by TIAA, feted Hrabowski, who has served as president of UMBC since 1992 and has been hailed as a pioneering educator, in part because of his work in research and innovation.
"There is no netter person than Freeman to reflect the legacy of John Hope Franklin," said Dr. Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education (ACE), adding that Hrabowski embodies the social mobility, intellectual inquiry and personal journey of every American, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds.
Hrabowski's leadership, said Mitchell, has been "nothing short of extraordinary," and "inspirational."
Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College introduced Hrabowski and noted that during his thirty year tenure, he turned UMBC into a "STEM Powerhouse." Though Campbell never met the towering Black historian who granted Diverse permission in 2004 to name an award after him, she said that she "kept his books close by," for inspiration.
Indeed, his seminal book From Slavery to Freedom is still read and taught in classrooms today.
"John Hope Franklin was my intellectual father," said Hrabowski, who recounted spending time with the intellectual giant in the years before his death in 2009.
"If we are to understand where we are today, we have to appreciate the history," said Hrabowski, who noted that he was retiring from UMBC, "but not from the life."
The late Congressman John Lewis; author Maya Angelou. Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham of Harvard and Dr. Norman C. Francis, president emeritus of Xavier University in New Orleans are among those who have received the award.