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The Empowered University

Shared Leadership, Culture Change, and Academic Success

There are few higher education leaders today that command more national respect and admiration than Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the outspoken president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Named one of America's Best Leaders by US News & World Report and one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World, Hrabowski has led a community transformation of UMBC from a young, regional institution to one of the nation's most innovative research universities.

In The Empowered University, Hrabowski and coauthors Philip J. Rous and Peter H. Henderson probe the way senior leaders, administrators, staff, faculty, and students facilitate academic success by cultivating an empowering institutional culture and broad leadership for innovation. They examine how shared leadership enables an empowered campus to tackle tough issues by taking a hard look in the mirror, noting strengths and weaknesses while assessing opportunities and challenges.

The authors dig deeply into these tough issues in higher education ranging from course redesign to group-based and experiential learning, entrepreneurship and civic engagement, academic inclusion, and faculty diversity. The authors champion a holistic approach to student success, focusing on teaching and learning while offering an array of financial, social, and academic supports for students of all backgrounds. Throughout the book, the authors emphasize the important role of analytics in decision-making. They also explore how community members and senior leaders can work together to create an inclusive campus through a more welcoming and supportive racial climate, improved Title IX processes, and career support for faculty of all backgrounds.

Ultimately, The Empowered University is as much a case study of the authors' work as it is an examination of institutional change, inclusive excellence, and campus-community partnerships. Arguing that higher education can play a unique role in addressing the fundamental divisions in our society and economy by supporting individuals in reaching their full potential, the authors have developed a provocative guide for higher education leaders who want to promote healthy and productive campus communities.

About the Authors

Freeman A. Hrabowski III has served as the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, since 1992. The author of Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement, he served as chair of the President's Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans under President Barack Obama. Philip J. Rous is the provost, the senior vice president for academic affairs, and a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Peter H. Henderson is the senior advisor to the president at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he is a policy fellow of the School of Public Policy.

Endorsements

"In fifty years, people will still be talking about Freeman Hrabowski's influence on American higher education. Under his leadership, UMBC has proven the possibilities when it comes to expanding opportunity, promoting inclusion, empowering students, and using the resources of the university to improve society. The Empowered University tells that inspiring story and is a must-read for all who believe in the power of education."

- Daniel Porterfield, President/CEO, The Aspen Institute

"Freeman and his team are for real. I have been on campus, talked to students, and studied the numbers. As Freeman says, 'change is hard as hell,' and this is the story of transforming UMBC to high student success and impacting research. It is a practical and interesting drama."

- Peter McPherson, President, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

"Freeman Hrabowski writes with the precision of a mathematician, which he is, the nuance of a poet, and the clarity of a fine journalist. He and coauthors Philip Rous and Peter Henderson skillfully weave hard-learned lessons from UMBC into a thoughtful blueprint for building and maintaining a healthy, thriving campus community."

- Bud Peterson, President, Georgia Institute of Technology

"In The Empowered University, Hrabowski shows with a powerful beam of light the potential of a public university to contribute to a prosperous American future and outlines how it can be replicated across our complex and diverse nation. Brilliantly written, this work shows how truly democratic universities harness the inherent intellect, drive, and grit of their people to attain greatness."

- Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University

"Freeman Hrabowski is a national treasure, an embodiment of why and how great leadership matters. The Empowered University is a parable about humility, honesty, community, and shared commitment to America's highest aspirations. Eloquent and multi-layered, this book is passionate and analytical. It is a must read and will be an instant classic."

- Ted Mitchell, President, American Council on Education

"Through two decades of leadership, Freeman Hrabowski has transformed UMBC into a national model, tangible proof that academic excellence and social inclusiveness are not either-or propositions. In this inspiring book, he and his colleagues share the lessons of their success. This book reaffirms the highest aspirations for schools and their students and faces tough challenges with a hands-on, can-do spirit."

- Richard Brodhead, President Emeritus, Duke University

"In this important and inspiring book, Freeman Hrabowski tells the story of the wonder that is UMBC—how it has succeeded in its aspiration to be inclusive, excellent, and innovative, and how it has come to represent the highest values of higher education. It is a story with lessons for all of us who care about universities and the role they can play in creating better lives and a better world."

- Drew Gilpin Faust, President Emerita, Harvard University

"The Empowered University is a timely volume that argues for the importance of creating a culture of shared leadership at our universities in order to cultivate innovation, access, and excellence. Deeply informed by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski's defining 28-year tenure as president of UMBC, the book is replete with practical wisdom for how universities can transform their cultures to educate the next generation of diverse and excellent citizens who will shape our future. This is a complex and challenging task, and success, as Dr. Hrabowski likes to say, is never final. But The Empowered University and Dr. Hrabowski's exemplary leadership provide a pathway toward that success."

- Ronald J. Daniels, President, Johns Hopkins University

"An engaging and provocative book. The Empowered University tells the story of UMBC and uses that institution's evolution to make broader points about higher education and institutional change. I particularly appreciate the regular reminder that higher education is both a private and a public good. I have learned from and been inspired by reading this book, and I know that many of my colleagues will have the same experience."

- Peter Felten, Elon University, coauthor of Transforming Students: Fulfilling the Promise of Higher Education

"In this engaging book, Freeman Hrabowski details how UMBC—now a household name in basketball—became a leader in science education and an engine of social mobility, especially for minority and underprivileged students, and provides a roadmap for how higher education can help sustain the American dream."

- Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President, Stanford University

Reviews

"In The Empowered University, [Hrabowski] describes a theory of shared leadership within a campus culture that is proudly aspirational, driven by clear mission and values: people first; shared governance; innovation and risk taking; and 'inclusive excellence,' the improvement of academic success for all students."

- Carolyn Dever - Public Books
Johns Hopkins University Press
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