Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, UMBC’s current president, took the helm after the departure of President Michael Hooker in 1992. Hrabowski has had particular success in improving achievement in higher education for minorities in STEM programs. In 1988, while serving as vice provost, Hrabowski co-founded the now nationally-recognized Meyerhoff Scholars Program with philanthropists Robert and Jane Meyerhoff.
Hrabowski has continued to develop UMBC into a truly competitive university. U.S. News & World Report ranked UMBC the number one “Up and Coming University” for six consecutive years from 2009-2014. The school has seen its endowment funding increase from $1 million to more than $70 million. Hrabowski himself holds an astounding number of achievements: in 2009 Hrabowski was named one of Time’s “10 Best College Presidents”; in 2011 The Washington Post named him one of seven “Top American Leaders”; in 2012 he received the Heinz Award, was placed on Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list, and President Obama appointed him chair of his Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African-Americans.
During the summer of 1992, President Michael Hooker left UMBC to take the helm of the five-school University of Massachusetts System. Freeman Hrabowski, who had first served as Vice Provost and then as Vice President, was selected as the interim president. A search for a new president would not begin until a final decision had been made about the possible unification of UMBC and UMAB, as only one president would be needed if the two schools merged.
"Since arriving at UMBC . . . I have come to appreciate the unusual combination of factors at work here: the enormous talents of the people, who care about our students; our focused academic programs, interdisciplinary strengths, and commitment to linking research and teaching; our youth and evolving status; and our medium size, ensuring us a critical mass of people and programs and a campus community where people know each other by name, and can feel special. . . . These same factors also allow us to have a distinctive vision for UMBC’s future. We will continue to strengthen and emphasize our arts and sciences programs, for the benefit of all our students. We will be a national leader in educating students in science and engineering, including minorities and women. And we will continue to focus on issues of diversity."
-Freeman Hrabowski from his installation speech as president September 24, 1993
When UMBC opened, just a handful of buildings on an old farm, 30 miles from College Park and 8 miles from the downtown professional schools, the new faculty and first classes of students reported a sense of excitement at the possibility of the new school. Many in the community were not so sure, and as the direction of the university has evolved this support has evolved, too. In the past decade there has been a new sense of excitement not just on campus but nationwide, spurred on by higher honors in university rankings, national news profiles, and a growing network of accomplished alumni touting the success of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. This example, a front page story in the Baltimore Sun, trumpets UMBC’s profile and future.
UMBC’s campus leaders have continually looked to the future of what UMBC may someday become, as demonstrated by Albin O. Kuhn’s yellow notes pads, Calvin Lee’s Project 2000, and even Michael Hooker’s ill-fated suggestion at a new name for the university. These formal and informal predictions continue today, but campus administrators and working groups also put substantial time and consideration into the work of the Strategic Planning process. Strategic plans identify the trajectory of the university - what strengths (and weaknesses) of the current system can be addressed in order to guide our path towards greater cooperation, scholarship, and community. This dynamic vision for the campus looks to the future of UMBC and guides the present day decisionmaking.