NEW YORK – The Carnegie Corporation of New York will be honoring Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Dr. Eduardo Padrón, president of Miami Dade College, for their leadership and commitment to educational equity and excellence on Thursday in New York. Hrabowski and Padrón will be receiving the prestigious Centennial Academic Leadership Award, which comes with a $500,000 award for each recipient.
“They have each committed their institution to serving its community and have demonstrated that excellence in leadership is far more than effective management alone,” said Dr. Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, in a statement.
The Meyerhoff Scholars Program, which has increased the number of minority students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics since 1988, is one of Hrabowski’s many laudable efforts that have promoted the education of underrepresented students. “The award is representative of UMBC’s inclusive excellence,” said Hrabowski, whose institution produces more Black Ph.D. candidates than any other predominantly White school in the nation.
Padrón also sees the award as recognition of Miami Dade College’s successes. “Beyond recognizing me, they are recognizing what MDC is contributing to this country,” he said.
Minority students make up 90 percent of the student body at MDC, and 46 percent of the college’s students live below the federal poverty line, according to a release by the Carnegie Corporation.
“The money is the icing on the cake,” said Padrón, who plans to use it to advance academic programming. “My goal is to open the door of opportunity wider,” he said.
Hrabowski said he will be creating a grant to support innovative ideas submitted by faculty members with the $500,000, promoting course redesign and the university’s reputation of excellence in teaching. Diversity on campus will continue to be a priority, he said. “We will build on that foundation.”
At MDC, Padrón also has embraced innovative strategies to help underserved students excel. The InterAmerican Campus project, for example, offers accelerated general education course content to high-achieving English language learners. It combines enrollment and retention methods for a 98 percent completion rate of students in the program. English is not the native language of about half of MDC’s students.
The college also boasts the largest undergraduate enrollment of any college or university in the country. “You cannot do it alone,” said Padrón of leading such a large institution.
He has served as president of MDC since 1995 and has no plans of retiring or leaving. “I’m extremely happy here,” said the president who loves his job because, he said, “you can change the lives of thousands of people.”
For Hrabowski, seeing UMBC students soar is the most gratifying part of being president, he says.
“Presidents Hrabowski and Padrón have proved that presidential leadership, faculty quality, and, most important, a dedication to placing the needs of students above all else, are the critical elements that distinguish one university from another,” said Gregorian.
Recent Carnegie award recipients include Dr. William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland (2009); Dr. Amy Guttman, president of the University of Pennsylvania (2009); Dr. Scott J. Cowen, president of Tulane University (2009); and Dr. Matthew Goldstein, chancellor of the City University of New York (2007), among others.