The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has named Illinois mathematics alumnus Freeman A. Hrabowski (MA, ’71, mathematics; PhD, '75, education; honorary PhD, '04, education) the 2023 recipient of the Public Welfare Medal. According to a press release from NAS, the medal—which recognizes extraordinary use of science for the public good—was established in 1914 and is the Academy’s most prestigious award.
Hrabowski, who recently retired as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County after 30 years of service, helped transform the once-commuter school into the nation's leading producer of African-American STEM graduates through many administrative innovations, including the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, which he co-founded with philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff in 1988. The program sought to increase diversity among leading scientists and engineering researchers and is now a national model for preparing undergraduate students from underrepresented minorities for career paths in STEM-related fields.
Multiple media outlets, including Time Magazine, have named Hrabowski one of the world's most influential people. Hrabowski advised former U.S. President Barack Obama on higher education policy. Among his many accolades, Hrabowski has also received the Carnegie Corporation of New York's Academic Leadership Award, and the Heinz Award on Human Condition, and others. In 2022, he became the tenth-ever recipient of the University of Illinois Chancellor's Medallion.
Hrabowski is one of two LAS alumni who received NAS awards this year.