Obama names UI grad to chair commission on education

Obama names UI grad to chair commission on education

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama has named a University of Illinois alumnus and nationally known college administrator to chair the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, was named chair of the commission last week, according to a White House press release.

In that role he will advise Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the new White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, designed to produce a more effective continuum of education programs for African-American students. The goal is to ensure they are fully prepared to complete high school and college and enjoy a productive career.

The commission will lead a national dialogue on African-American achievement from early childhood through adulthood, working with federal agencies, educators and philanthropic partners.

"The nation's future will depend heavily on the extent to which we educate all of our nation's children. This commission will work to ensure that increasing numbers of African Americans excel academically," Hrabowski said in a release.

Hrabowski received his master's degree in mathematics in 1971 and doctoral degree in higher education administration in 1975 from the UI's Urbana-Champaign campus. He also received the College of Education's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008.

Hrabowski chaired a National Academy of Sciences committee that examined minority participation in the sciences. The committee concluded that, to remain competitive, the United States must significantly increase its investment in young people of all races interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

Hrabowski was named one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2012 by Time Magazine and one of the seven "Top American Leaders" in 2011 by The Washington Post and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He also received the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

He has been president at Maryland-Baltimore County since 1992, and also served as executive vice president and vice provost there. He previously held leadership and faculty positions at Coppin State College, now Coppin State University, from 1977 to 1987 and at the UI from 1974 to 1976, the release said.

He serves on the boards of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the France-Merrick Foundation and the Urban Institute, and is chair of the Marguerite Casey Foundation.

He earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the Hampton Institute, now Hampton University.

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45solte wrote on August 06, 2012 at 9:08 am

I didn't realize the Dept. of Ed was meeting the needs of most students (African American or not).   How about we fix the Dept of Ed for all students.  Was this another back door executive order by Obama?

Liz wrote on August 06, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Our educational system is broken for all students, not just African American students.  I've had  children in our public school system since 1989 and have seen a lot of changes, not always good ones. 

Let's face it, it starts at home.  With the destruction of  family values these days, what do you expect. 


Sid Saltfork wrote on August 06, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Is it "family values"; or people too occupied to take the time to help their kids with homework, reading with them, and explaining the importance of education?  Lazy parents occupied with their own pursuits come in all races, income levels, religions, politics, and parental relationships.  The teacher is held responsible for the child's educational outcome instead of the parents.  The use of time taken with a child's education is the problem.  

rsp wrote on August 06, 2012 at 10:08 pm


Earlier I looked up some information about the commitee and Dr. Hrabowski is the first person appointed and it's just been created. It's not just teachers and parents, it's a system that's been in place for a long time where certain kids are let know they don't belong in some way. I've seen parents tell their kids they would never go to college because they didn't want them to get their hopes up. It was years ago and they didn't realize they were doing anything wrong. But it was the message they were given growing up. It still goes on in schools today. Think back to all the comments made about Urbana schools with the redistricting plan they just did. The comments about the school a few blocks from where I am at this minute should embarrass the writers but it didn't. They would say them again. There are gaps in education that can't be explained with the information they currently have. They have ruled out a lot of things. There are other things they suspect. 

Put it this way. Kids who are uneducated are more likely to get into trouble regardless of their race. They are less likely to be able to support themselves and their children. They are more likely to be a drain on society. This is looking for solutions not mandates like NCLB. Things that will help all kids in the long run.