Hrabowski to speak at commencement

April 27, 2018

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the president of University of Maryland, Baltimore Country, will address graduates and guests at Brandeis’ 67th commencement May 13, President Ron Liebowitz announced Monday.

There will be five honorary degree recipients this year, including Hrabowski, Israeli singer Chava Alberstein, Mary Sue Coleman, the president of the Association of American Universities and philanthropists Jay Ruderman ’88 and Shira Ruderman.

Hrabowski is described as a “child-leader in the Civil Rights movement” on his University of Maryland webpage. At 12, he joined the Children’s Crusade march for civil rights in Birmingham, AL. Hrabowski and other children were arrested during the march. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited them in jail and Hrabowski took inspiration from the words he shared with them. He recalled King saying: “What you do this day will have an impact on children not yet born,” according to a Brandeis press release.

Hrabowski came to UMBC as vice provost in 1987 and became president in 1992. He is the author of several books focusing on the educational success of African Americans in science and technology, such as “Holding Fast to Dreams.” Hrabowski was named one of America’s ten best college presidents by “Time” magazine in 2009 and one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2012.

Hrabowski is also a consultant to the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. He has a Ph.D. in higher education administration and statistics and an M.A. in mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Hampton Institute.

“President Hrabowski showed tremendous courage as a youngster in the civil rights movement and, as an accomplished educational leader, has dedicated his career to ensuring that students of color get equal access to STEM education,” said Liebowitz in the press release. “He has earned enormous respect and admiration for his dynamic leadership on social mobility and other issues in higher education. I look forward to the insight and vision he will deliver in his Commencement address.”

Hrabowski will receive an honorary degree along with four other recipients of various occupations. Alberstein, who is a popular singer-songwriter in Israel, and has released more than 70 albums since 1967. She will be performing at Commencement.

Coleman has been the president of the Association of American Universities—an organization composed of 62 American and Canadian universities and colleges, since 2016. She previously served as president of the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa, the first woman to lead both schools.

Both Jay and Shira Ruderman lead the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Guided by … Jewish values,” the foundation aims to “advocate for and advance the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout our society; strengthen the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish Community; and model the practice of strategic philanthropy worldwide,” according to their website.

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