Freeman Hrabowski, president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, to speak at Purdue Martin Luther King Jr. celebration

December 3, 2015

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, on Jan. 19 will keynote the Purdue University celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The theme of the 2016 celebration is The Fierce Urgency of Now.

"Freeman Hrabowski is one of the leading voices in American higher education," said Deba Dutta, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity. "I cannot think of anyone better to be our MLK speaker this year, and I look forward to welcoming him to campus."

Hrabowski will give the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address at 7 p.m. in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse. It is free and open to the public.

"Purdue is very fortunate to be hosting Dr. Hrabowski as the 2016 MLK keynote speaker," said Jeffrey T. Roberts, Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science and professor of chemistry. "An inspirational and engaging speaker, he will encourage all students to realize their potential as scholars. This will be a lecture for all Boilermakers – students, faculty and staff - and members of the Lafayette community to savor and enjoy."

President of UMBC since 1992, Hrabowksi also is a consultant on science and math education to national agencies, universities and school systems. He was named by President Obama to chair the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He also chaired the National Academies' committee that in 2011 produced the report "Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads."

He was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine in 2012 and one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report in 2008. He also received the Carnegie Corp.'s Academic Leadership Award in 2011. UMBC has been recognized for inclusive excellence by U.S. News, which the past seven years has recognized it as a national leader in academic innovation and undergraduate teaching.

"We're very excited to have such an inspirational leader as Freeman Hrabowski as our keynote speaker," said Renee Thomas, director of Purdue's Black Cultural Center and co-chair of the Martin Luther King Planning Committee. "He has transformed the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, into an academic powerhouse that graduates STEM majors of all races. His research and writings focus on innovating American schools, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance."

Hrabowski's talk will be preceded by a 6 p.m. candlelight vigil and march from the BCC to Loeb Playhouse, hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

In addition, the Purdue Dreamer Award also will be presented on Jan. 19 at Loeb Playhouse. The award is presented annually to an individual or organization in the Purdue community whose contributions embody King's vision of service to others and furthers the university's commitment to diversity and inclusion. Nominations for the award are being accepted until Dec. 31. More information, including submission forms and a list of previous recipients, can be found at, or contact Carolyn E. Johnson, director of the Diversity Resource Office, 765-494-7307,

Other celebration highlights include:

* Jan. 18. MLK Day of Service, coordinated by Boiler Volunteer Network. Open to Purdue students, faculty, staff members and retirees. Volunteers will spend time with community service agencies in Tippecanoe County, including those that work with animals, children, seniors, health care and the homeless. Participants will meet at 8 a.m. at the France Córdova Recreational Sports Center. Registration is available at

* Jan. 13-20. Purdue Libraries faculty and staff will create and mount displays on a variety of topics related to King's legacy in libraries across campus.

* Jan. 15-30. The Minority Technology Association Purdue Polytechnic student organization will invite students, faculty and staff to post their dreams under a banner display in Knoy Hall of Technology.

* Jan. 15. Purdue Dining & Catering will distribute free slices of MLK birthday cake in the Purdue Memorial Union and Purdue residence halls dining courts. 

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711,

Source: Renee Thomas, 765-494-3091,

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