Pres. Hrabowski celebrates UMBC’s 50th and discusses issues in higher education on MPT

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski celebrated UMBC’s upcoming 50th anniversary and reflected on current major issues in higher education during an interview with Jeff Salkin on MPT’s “Direct Connection,” on February 1.

The conversation touched on topics from helping students afford college, to supporting communities in Baltimore that are struggling economically, to advising youth who may not yet be ready for college but are still seeking career opportunities that will enable them to be financially secure.

Salkin asked Hrabowski about a new op-ed published in USA Today, coauthored by JPMorgan Chase & Co Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, on how the four-year college experience, while tremendously important, is not the only path to career readiness for all Americans seeking meaningful employment. Hrabowski responded:

We need to give students opportunities and options. As a research university president I wanted to be on the record as saying I care about my students, who are high achievers, who come in to do the great things, going for PhDs and MD/PhDs, but I should also be concerned about young people who may not be as advantaged as the students we are getting at UMBC.

After a caller asked about hope for Baltimore communities facing economic disinvestment and limited opportunities, Hrabowski discussed the impact of university collaborations. He detailed a new $1.6 million UMBC partnership with Northrop Grumman and Baltimore City Public Schools that expands on UMBC’s long-term commitments “to build the skills of children…Pre-K on up, and to work with their families and give them support in many ways.”

This public-private partnership work also has tremendous benefits for UMBC, Hrabowski shared:

What we do at UMBC is to prepare leaders through a liberal arts education, which will allow them to work with young people and to start programs to help more families and children to succeed.

Ultimately, Hrabowski said, universities, K-12 schools, and other partners must work together to send a message to students of all ages that they have high expectations for them, confidence in their potential, and will provide them with the tools they need to succeed.

We have to understand the importance of high expectations for all of our students and giving them the support to do well, whether it is in learning mathematics, or learning a language, or becoming the best artist possible.

“Our students…are amazingly hungry for the knowledge” and they know that “nothing takes the place of hard work,” said Hrabowski. He signed off, “Grit and greatness…at UMBC. We are the House of Grit. Hard work makes the difference.”

Image: UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.