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Education Onward 150

Looking to the future of higher education

Freeman A. Hrabowski III’s accomplishments sound like those of 10 people, maybe more: more than 40 honorary degrees, a role in a Spike Lee movie, and a place on the prestigious America’s Best Leaders list by U.S. News & World Report. Though his background is in science and mathematics, Hrabowski, the president of University of Maryland Baltimore County, left the room of over 200 Loyola University Chicago students, staff, and faculty roaring with laughter. Using statistics along with stories, Hrabowski’s October 4 lecture kicked off Loyola's 2025 strategic planning with a look at the future of higher education in America.

Here are some key takeaways from Hrabowski's talk:


1. Tell compelling stories

Though Hrabowski admits his love for numbers, he says the only way to truly convey a point is not through facts and figures but through our own personal stories.

2. Take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail

In an academic setting, Hrabowski notes that teachers and students should be encouraged to explore, experiment, and fail. Failure in a university space means students are allowed to grow, learn, and see the value when a risk turns into a reward.

3. Get beyond political correctness

While the topic of political correctness is used in many different ways, Hrabowski was adamant that students need to feel safe in order to truly learn. One of the ways to do that is to listen to all thoughts and opinions, and then use education to explain why certain systems and judgements are prejudice.

4. Know your students, know what you’re about

Each college campus has a personality that shines through its students. Hrabowski commended Loyola on having a strong set of values and student identity. He noted that Loyola students are passionate, globally and locally engaged, and have a strong foundation in religion. Knowing those students will help shape a more inclusive strategic plan, one that doesn’t change what the University is about, but helps preserve it.

5. Lean into faith

The Jesuit values of Loyola are the foundation of everything at the University. After taking a picture with the famous Sister Jean, Hrabowski told her from the podium that Loyola has been living those values from the very beginning, and that faith is the University's ultimate advantage.