The Legacy of the Longtime University President: A Diverse New Generation in STEM

When the Howard Hughes Medical Institute recently launched a $1.5 billion program to support multiple universities’ next technology in science, expertise, engineering, and math, it named the initiative the “Freeman Hrabowski Student Program.” to clarify the mission, said Leslie Vosshall, its vice president and chief scientific officer. “If every institution took its recipe,” she said of Dr. Hrabowski, “didn’t change any substance, didn’t cut corners, it could rework STEM education in the United States.”

Presidents of colleges and universities across the country to “Freeman classrooms” that can be modeled in classrooms and meeting rooms every day.

James P. Clements, president of Clemson College and UMBC alumnus, recalled how Dr. Hrabowski coached him for the interview that led to his first presidency, at West Virginia College. “I wouldn’t be a college president without Freeman,” he said, “and 14 years later he’s still teaching me.”

Paula A. Johnson, president of the Wellesley faculty, met Dr. Hrabowski years ago as a young fellow at Harvard University, when he or she was receiving an honorary degree and he or she was in charge ) to behave like its host. In particular, he had asked for a shadow teacher.

“He is always busy with his work, not just in terms of the dignity he gets, but who else he can embrace and move forward. He pays it many times in advance, on a large and small scale,” she said.

Kevin E. Boling