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Nationally Recognized Higher Education Expert Speaks at STEM Summit

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Author: Timothy C. Ervin

Release Date: Mar 14, 2016

Nationally renowned higher education expert and college president Dr. Freeman Hrabowski encouraged university leaders attending the HBCU Presidents’ Summit on STEM to rethink science education at their institutions.

The inaugural HBCU Presidents’ Summit on STEM entered its second day with a speech by renowned educator Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Hrabowski is nationally recognized as a leading expert on higher education.

Alabama State University is hosting the summit, which is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Hrabowski emphasized the need for early preparation of students, particularly African-American students, for STEM-related fields of study.

“When you talk about STEM, I think it is very important to remember the importance of pre-K through 12th initiatives,” said Hrabowski. “It is important to look at who is not only graduating from high school, but most importantly, are the students prepared for college in general and are they prepared for STEM? And we know the vast majority of African Americans are not prepared for college in general and that even fewer are prepared for STEM.”

Hrabowski spoke to the presidents and other leaders of more than 30 HBCUs from around the country. He praised HBCUs for supporting STEM initiatives but added that the institutions have an obligation to improve their records of attracting undergraduates into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields of study.

He said universities must rethink science education, particularly the first-year gateway courses, and find new ways of connecting research to teaching, promoting collaborative learning and emphasizing interdisciplinary thinking on large problems.

“The majority of students who start in STEM do not succeed,” he said. “Universities must support students who struggle in the sciences, as even the best students do. Students must be honest about recognizing the need for support, but universities must be ready to help.”

Hrabowski was one of several speakers at the the three-day summit which concludes on Wednesday, March 15 in the ballroom of ASU’s John Garrick Hardy Student Center.

The summit also included workshops, strategic discussions and technical assistance sessions presented by NSF facilitators and representatives from a number of topic-relevant governmental agencies.

“We want to do our part to make sure that our students have every opportunity that’s available,” said ASU President Gwendolyn E. Boyd. “That means that the leaders of our institutions, specifically HBCUs, need to come together to figure out how we can collaborate and be stronger together. There is more money available to us when we come together, and there’s also a synergy when we come together. When you look at HBCUs, some of them are very small and doing great things in areas of STEM, and others who are just launching STEM initiatives. When we come together and put everything on the table, then we will find a way to make sure that we grow together, which will benefit our students who are with us now and those students who are coming in the future.”




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